Gates, Scott; Håvard Strand & Kaare Strøm (2010) Peace and Democracy – Can We Have Both?, PRIO Policy Brief, 3. Oslo: PRIO.
Power-sharing agreements as a means of resolving conflict have received widespread support in the international community. Power-sharing lowers the security risks that groups face and reduces the likelihood that they will turn their backs on civilian political institutions. Facing post-election violence, governments of ‘national unity’ have been created in Kenya and Zimbabwe. With the exception of the threat of internal bickering, these broadly based governments have the potential of becoming very powerful. Given the moral position and real power that post-conflict governments often possess, effective opposition to a power-sharing government is virtually impossible. Post-conflict democracy is contingent upon a separation of government and opposition. Power-sharing arrangements undermine democracy by first removing any existing opposition; secondly, by barring the emergence of new opposition elites; and, finally, by pre-arranging seat allocation, thereby invalidating any real influence from voters. Dispersed political authority vests power in civil society, thereby creating a dynamic environment for the peaceful creation and development of new elites and grassroots organizations. This offers an alternative path to peace and democracy.
Research Professor. Editor, International Area Studies Review
Professor of Political Science, University of California, San Diego
The Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) conducts research on the conditions for peaceful relations between states, groups and people.