By Other Means: Combatant Capabilities, Institutional Choice, and Electoral Competition after Civil War
Dresden, Jennifer Grace Raymond
Howard, Marc M
Since the end of the Cold War, democratization has been treated in both theory and practice as a crucial element of peacebuilding after civil war, promising the transfer of social conflict from the battlefield to the ballot box. Yet even where a country avoids renewed violence, the post-conflict context has proven a particularly difficult one in which to build democracy. In some cases, robust political competition occurs over repeated elections, but in many others political life quickly becomes dominated by a single party. What accounts for this variation in the quality of democracy after internal armed conflict? This dissertation approaches the question by disaggregating democracy into three of its key components: the decision to adopt de jure democratic institutions, the presence of de facto competition at the national level, and the willingness of voters to hold incumbents accountable. Using cross-national statistical analysis and mixed-methods case studies of Mozambique and Sierra Leone, it argues that each of these outcomes is influenced in important ways by the legacies of the preceding conflict. The findings indicate that armed conflict frequently imposes high costs on a regime and creates incentives for incumbents to adopt democratic institutions, including multiparty elections. Whether these elections are competitive at the national level depends on the types of capabilities and resources that actors develop during conflict. Competitiveness is highest in cases in which multiple actors emerge from conflict with assets that can be converted from military to electoral use. While such convertible assets can take many forms, organizational capabilities are particularly important. They allow sustained mobilization of a party’s core supporters, a key to success because violence during civil war has polarizing effects on the electorate. Overall, the dissertation contributes to the scholarship on post-conflict politics by demonstrating how decisions made by leaders during civil wars can have long-lasting political effects.
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