This article presents a comparative study of four countries that experienced severe political crises during the past two decades—Ecuador, Madagascar, Tunisia, and Venezuela. Despite this, peace prevailed in three of them. Only in Madagascar was there an armed conflict in 2009. Based on a comparison of these cases, the article identifies a set of factors deemed crucial as constituents of a country's domestic capabilities for peaceful conflict management. The article also explains why—in the case of Madagascar in 2009—these capabilities became weakened and the crisis culminated in a military coup. The factors identified as crucial for the preservation of intrastate peace are channels of political participation, the identity and loyalty of the military, a culture of constructive conflict management, and the structure of conflict fault lines in a country. The comparative study revealed that strength in one or more of these factors could substitute for weaknesses in the others. Conflict-prevention research and conflict-prevention efforts therefore need to pay attention to all of these factors, and to the balance between them.
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