Can Power-sharing Foster Peace? Evidence From Northern Ireland
Abstract: Much anecdotal evidence and journalist accounts suggest a potentially important role for
power-sharing to curb conflict, and there is a clear tendency for some ethnically or
religiously divided countries to adopt some power-sharing. Many successful and peaceful ethnically and religiously divided
countries chose the so-called "Consensus Model of Democracy" characterized by power-sharing
and the decentralization of power on all levels. Still, while historical examples tell
us that several ethnically and politically divided countries adopted power-sharing and that
this correlates with peace and prosperity, this is a long way from showing systematic
statistical evidence that the adoption of power-sharing results in a reduction of the risk of
conflict. In fact, there is surprising little hard, statistical evidence linking power-sharing to
peace. To address the shortcomings in the existing literature, in this paper we study the impact of power-sharing on the risk of conflict. After the discussion of the underlying theory, as a next step, we use very disaggregated data from Northern Ireland. Using data on the identity of the chairmen in district councils we define power-sharing at the local level as a situation where none of the sectarian parties holds both chairs. We then see whether this local power-sharing has reduced the scope for violence during the past decades.
Pre-print version can be downloaded here. The full article is published here. Video of Dominic Rohner presenting the paper can be viewed here.
Keywords: power sharing, armed conflict, political institutions, political violence, Northern Ireland, troubles.