Power Sharing in Deeply Divided Places

Power Sharing in Deeply Divided Places

Power Sharing in Deeply Divided Places

Power Sharing in Deeply Divided Places


Power sharing may be broadly defined as any set of arrangements that prevents one political agency or collective from monopolizing power, whether temporarily or permanently. Ideally, such measures promote inclusiveness or at least the coexistence of divergent cultures within a state. In places deeply divided by national, ethnic, linguistic, or religious conflict, power sharing is the standard prescription for reconciling antagonistic groups, particularly where genocide, expulsion, or coerced assimilation threaten the lives and rights of minority peoples. In recent history, the success record of this measure is mixed.

Power Sharing in Deeply Divided Places features fifteen analytical studies of power-sharing systems, past and present, as well as critical evaluations of the role of electoral systems and courts in their implementation. Interdisciplinary and international in formation and execution, the chapters encompass divided cities such as Belfast, Jerusalem, Kirkuk, and Sarajevo and divided places such as Belgium, Israel/Palestine, Northern Ireland, and South Africa, as well as the Holy Roman Empire, the Saffavid Empire, Aceh in Indonesia, and the European Union.

Equally suitable for specialists, teachers, and students, Power Sharing in Deeply Divided Places considers the merits and defects of an array of variant systems and provides explanations of their emergence, maintenance, and failings; some essays offer lucid proposals targeted at particular places. While this volume does not presume that power sharing is a panacea for social reconciliation, it does suggest how it can help foster peace and democracy in conflict-torn countries.

Contributors: Liam Anderson, Florian Bieber, Scott A. Bollens, Benjamin Braude, Ed Cairns, Randall Collins, Kris Deschouwer, Bernard Grofman, Colin Irwin, Samuel Issacharoff, Allison McCulloch, Joanne McEvoy, Brendan O'Leary, Philippe van Parijs, Alfred Stepan, Ronald Wintrobe.


Brendan O’Leary

The Mafia makes offers that cannot be refused. in one peace pro cess a politician was once accused of making offers that no one could understand (O’Leary 1990). Do these statements explain the difference between power and power sharing? Is power coercive capacity, whereas power sharing is incomprehensible?

Power sharing is not incomprehensible, but it is frequently misunderstood. To aid comprehension a comparison is useful. in standard English, power is the ability to act, to be able to produce an intended effect (Russell 1992 [1938]). the powerless lack the capacity to do things they might want to do. the powerful are in the opposite situation. Power sharing, therefore, suggests spreading access to the capacity to get things done. Power is also a synonym for authority, jurisdiction, control, command, sway, or dominion, as well as the capacity to persuade, induce, constrain, oblige, or force. It follows that power sharing minimally means widening the access of persons or groups to the same domains or attributes. in standard usage power is also “a possession,” “held” by those with authority or influence over others, especially public officials, governments, officers, managements, or establishments who constitute what Paul’s Letter to the Romans described as “the powers that be.” Power sharing, therefore, broadens membership of “the powers that be.” It also requires that the included parties have access to key and observable “decision making.” There must be no important “non–decision making” taking place off stage, that is, no hidden possessors of power who . . .

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