Decentralizing democracy: a governance proposal for post-conflict ethnically divided countries
Robinson, Glenn E.
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The recent experience of nation building in Iraq, and more so in Afghanistan, calls for a deeper analysis of the pre-conditions for establishing an appropriate form of governance in post-conflict ethnically divided societies. While Afghanistans democracy has become increasingly associated with the unwanted imposition of western liberal values, the need to build stable governance there raises critical questions about which form of governance is the best social fit for a given society. This thesis seeks to explore the relationship between the decentralization of governance and stability in deeply fragmented societies. Our research also seeks to validate the tenets of consociational democracy. Drawing on lessons from six contemporary post-conflict cases, we conclude that a decentralized framework offers a more viable option than any other currently being proposed for deeply divided societies. Our findings suggest that the steadfast adherence to consociational democracy tenets and tailored decentralization of governance functions were consistent with the achievement of social fit in post-conflict ethnically divided countries. Although the involvement of external actors, economic growth or decline, and other geopolitical considerations can delay stability or serve as a catalyst for instability, it is the governance characteristic of social fit that endures.
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