New short paper on the political economy of power-sharing

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Together with my colleague Martin Ottmann I wrote a short piece on how power-sharing drives corruption and patronage in post-conflict politics. It is part of a larger project on effect of power-sharing on distributive politics in the aftermath of internal war, including my dissertation on the links between power-sharing, foreign aid, and political development.

You can find the paper here; here’s the abstract

Using a power-sharing arrangement to integrate insurgents into a country’s political system, either by granting them government cabinet posts or greater territorial autonomy, has become an increasingly common method by which to pacify violent conflicts. However, power-sharing reinforces patterns of corruption and patronage, which are detrimental to sustainable peace and development in the long run. This is especially problematic as some of this corrupt behavior is fueled by official development assistance.

  • Power-sharing institutions have been empirically shown to prolong peace after civil conflict. Nevertheless, an often overlooked but central mechanism to this is that powersharing institutionalises access to state resources for both the government and rebels. Political elites from both sides often divert state income to finance their political support networks or simply to enrich themselves, creating a political economy of corruption and patronage.
  • Power-sharing often ends long-running bloodshed. But by simply buying off violent state and non-state actors, it frequently fails to address the root causes of conflict. Furthermore, by institutionalising self-enrichment and clientelism, powersharing may actually inhibit post-conflict political and economic development in the long run.
  • Post-conflict countries with power-sharing institutions are, on average, more corrupt than post-conflict countries without power-sharing institutions−at the same time, official development assistance to power-sharing countries has increased.
  • Post-conflict Liberia and Aceh, Indonesia, show that the political economy of power-sharing is at play in both political power-sharing arrangements (whereby political office is distributed amongst former belligerents) and territorial power-sharing arrangements (whereby greater territorial autonomy is granted to a rebel group).
  • International donors need to be aware of the inherent dilemma in buying peace through power-sharing: securing peace in the short term can result in increased corruption. Although corruption may be a necessary side effect of ensuring immediate peace, international assistance should focus on reducing corruption in the long run.