Political Parties and Elections

Our research examines the everyday dynamics of former armed groups in post-conflict party politics. In recent decades, peace agreements have enabled armed groups to transform into political parties, mobilise voters and ultimately stand for elections. About one third (35.5%) of armed groups entering negotiated peace between 1975 and 2011 transformed into political parties.

Our goal is to understand how former rebel group political parties operate, organise and mobilise after the initial transition to a political party has taken place. Tackling this broader issue enables us to assess whether such parties are different from or just like political parties that lack a violent origin.

The research also runs counter to conventional knowledge from disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) and security sector reform (SSR) literature, which focuses on reducing armed movements and removing armed actors from politics. Rather, we emphasise their political role and potential for building strong, peaceful and representative political parties.

To discover whether and how the war-time origins of political actors affect their democratic capacity and participation in the electoral political game, we focus on the following questions:

  • does the nature of the conflict itself matter for how political parties manage to become efficient parties?
  • does the nature of the conflict-ending (insurgent victory or negotiated settlement) dictate whether more authoritarian or democratic post-conflict politics develops?
  • how does the foundation ideology, identity and governance structure of armed groups help them mobilise and achieve their post-conflict political agenda?
  • what allows former armed groups to adopt more democratic internal workings?

See also: Sindre, Gyda M and Soderstrom, Johanna (2016) Guest Editors, Special Issue: Understanding armed groups and party politics, Civil Wars 18(2) 109

Next: State-building