Power-Sharing Executives: Governing in Bosnia, Macedonia, and Northern Ireland

Power-Sharing Executives: Governing in Bosnia, Macedonia, and Northern Ireland

Power-Sharing Executives: Governing in Bosnia, Macedonia, and Northern Ireland

Power-Sharing Executives: Governing in Bosnia, Macedonia, and Northern Ireland

Synopsis

To achieve peaceful interethnic relations and a stable democracy in the aftermath of violent conflict, institutional designers may task political elites representing previously warring sides with governing a nation together. In Power-Sharing Executives, Joanne McEvoy asks whether certain institutional rules can promote cooperation between political parties representing the contending groups in a deeply divided place. Examining the different experiences of postconflict power sharing in Bosnia, Macedonia, and Northern Ireland, she finds that with certain incentives and norms in place, power sharing can indeed provide political space for an atmosphere of joint governance or accommodation between groups.

Power-Sharing Executives explains how the institutional design process originated and evolved in each of the three nations and investigates the impact of institutional rules on interethnic cooperation. McEvoy also looks at the role of external actors such as international organizations in persuading political elites to agree to share power and to implement power-sharing peace agreements. This comparative analysis of institutional formation and outcomes shows how coalitions of varying inclusivity or with different rules can bring about a successful if delicate consociationality in practice. Power-Sharing Executives offers prescriptions for policymakers facing the challenges of mediating peace in a postconflict society and sheds light on the wider study of peace promotion.

Excerpt

In December 2012, Belfast hit the world headlines again, the story far from positive. More than fourteen years after the Good Friday Agreement of April 1998, sectarian politics came to the fore amid loyalist riots lasting several months. Around fifty police offers were injured, several politicians received death threats, and property was damaged across the city. Clashes between loyalists and nationalists took place at sensitive interface areas, and a prison officer was murdered by dissident republicans. the violence was sparked by a vote by Belfast City Council to limit the flying of the Union flag at City Hall to designated days rather than every day of the year. in response to the ongoing protests, political leaders called for calm and sought to bolster the power-sharing executive. First Minister Peter Robinson (Democratic Unionist Party) referred to the “historic decisions” his party had made “to build a shared society in Northern Ireland.” Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness (Sinn Féin) urged the parties to work together against “antipeace process” elements: “We are not going to kowtow or bow the knee to their activities.”

The issue of equal treatment of groups’ symbols became politically contentious in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2004 following a request from the Chair of the Presidency Sulejman Tihić for the Constitutional Court to review the constitutionality of symbols on the flags of the two entities (the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska). Tihić claimed that the gold lilies on the Federation’s coat of arms and flag represented Bosniaks while the red and white squares represented Croats, thereby discriminating against Serbs. He also claimed that Republika Srpska’s flag was based on symbols solely from Serb history and that the entity’s anthem . . .

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