AbstractsPolitical Science

The Process of Power-Sharing. How Constitutions Were Established in Afghanistan and Iraq after US Intervention

by A. van den Heuvel

Institution: Universiteit Utrecht
Year: 2009
Keywords: Letteren; power-sharing, constitutional processes, political processes, governance, Iraq, Afghanistan, political players, centripetalism, consociationalism, interim period, peace agreements, constitutions, group dimensions, conflict analysis
Record ID: 1250778
Full text PDF: http://dspace.library.uu.nl:8080/handle/1874/34163


Afghanistan and Iraq were invaded by coalitions led by the United States (US) within a time frame of eighteen months. In the period after the invasion and the toppling of the ruling parties, new constitutions that included power-sharing arrangements were established in both countries. Power-sharing is a crucial part of peace agreements and new constitutions in many contemporary post-conflict situations. For groups to agree on sharing power can provide an alternative for the violent power struggle that took place during conflict. Power-sharing agreements have both succeeded and failed but, after researching power-sharing arrangements in 191 countries and in-depth research of ten post-conflict societies, Pippa Norris of Harvard University concludes, “power-sharing is one of the most promising avenues towards lasting peace settlements and sustainable democracy” (Norris 2008:223). There are different areas in which power-sharing can be applied; at the executive and government level, but also in the legislature and in judicial and economic sectors. In each case where power-sharing is applied, these areas are in- or excluded in a more- or less comprehensive way. In this thesis the focus is on political power-sharing arrangements. “Political arrangements” refers to regulations regarding the executive and government levels that include institutional and constitutional rules such as the type of electoral system, the type of executive (presidential or parliamentary) and the division of power between central government and regions (Papagianni 2007:25, Norris 2008:23). A detailed definition of power-sharing depends on the theory of power-sharing advocated. A general, broad definition is based on common elements from political power-sharing theories and is given by Pippa Norris and Timothy Sisk, an often-cited scholar on power-sharing in post-conflict societies. Sisk defines political power-sharing systems as “practices and institutions that result in broad-based governing coalitions generally inclusive of most, if not all, major groups” (Sisk 1999:vii, 4). The definition used in this thesis is put forward by Pippa Norris, who defines political power-sharing as “formal institutional rules which give multiple political elites a stake in the decision-making process” (Norris 2008:23). In order to institutionalize and implement political power-sharing arrangements, questions on which groups will get a stake in power, on how it will be decided how much power a group gets and on who is to answer these first two questions have to be answered (Papagianni 2008:49). Power-sharing theory deals with these puzzles. There are two main theories in power-sharing literature, known as consociationalism and centripetalism. Both include guidelines and explanations on how to share political power and on what type of power-sharing arrangements works best. The scholarly debate evolves around the critiques of these theories and focuses on the questions “what can be done” (criticizing practical use of centripetalism) versus “what should be…