Matanock, Aila M (2017) Electing Peace: From Civil Conflict to Political Participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 321 pp.

​ISBN: 978-1-316-63881-1

Kristian Skrede Gleditsch

University of Essex & PRIO

​The end of the Cold War and the third wave of democratization raised hopes that opening for elections could help settle civil wars. However, considerable skepticism soon followed, as elections have often failed to eradicate violence. Matanock emphasizes the importance of peace agreements with provisions for electoral participation by former rebels. Transitioning to participation in conventional politics can be made more attractive for rebels than fighting if the terms of agreements are credible. Matanock argues that that this can be accomplished through external assistance such as election monitoring to verify compliance and sanctioning non-compliance through withholding aid. Using new data, Matanock shows that electoral participation provisions in peace agreements frequently accompany regional efforts to promote democracy, and that conflicts with such agreements are less likely to recur. Detailed case studies help validate the postulated mechanisms. Matanock provides an optimistic account of how engaging rebels can help overcome violence and an important possible explanation for why civil wars have waned in many parts of the world as well as when elections are less likely to ensure peace. She also convincingly demonstrates how external assistance can help even in the absence of the significant coercive power often stressed in work on external guarantees in civil war or the need for ’robust’ peacekeeping. Matanock’s focus on external involvement to some extent weakens her ability to follow up on other potential mechanisms for enforcing compliance, such as the very interesting suggestion that civil society can induce this through threat of collective action. However, this book remains a rich source of ideas on when institutions can promote transitions from war to peace and deserves a wide readership.