Inclusion and Democracy

We are conducting the first systematic investigation into the broader connection between the inclusion of former armed groups in politics and a) the durability of peace and b) the deepening of democracy over time through the inclusion of previously excluded minority groups.

We have identified three sub-themes that help structure our evaluation of the effects of rebel group inclusion on democracy. We analyse whether rebel group inclusion has enhanced:

  • democratic stability
  • representative democracy; and
  • good governance

Democratic stability concerns the links between rebel group inclusion and the likelihood of recurring political violence. Our studies suggest the inclusion of former rebel groups into politics has a positive effect on political stability.

While it is expected that inclusion leads to more peaceful interaction between political actors, the implicit assumption that such stability also ensures democratic stability has not been sufficiently tested and explored for post-civil war countries in the decades following the end of intra-state war.

Parties may not necessarily become less extremist in their ideology following their inclusion in democratic politics. If such extremist parties continue to display anti-democratic attitudes remain ‘relevant’ within a country’s party landscape, how do they shape democracy? This is a question we seek to address.

The second sub-theme concerns whether rebel group inclusion enhances the representative character of democracy. While there is an implicit expectation that the transformation of rebel groups into political parties and their subsequent inclusion into the political system ensures the representation of formerly excluded minorities, little attention has been paid to the extent to which former armed groups turned political parties actually fulfil the expectation of a representative democracy. We will explore whether some groups are better equipped to fulfil a party’s role in raising the voice of minorities.

The third sub-theme considers whether the inclusion of rebel groups in politics affects defacto governance in the long-run. Moving beyond the issue of stability and representation, we ask what role do former rebel parties play in providing good or bad governance in post-war contexts? Do some wartime organisational legacies and practices make for better post-war governance?

See also: Conference on Rebel Inclusion and Democracy

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