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Bullets for ballots: Electoral participation provisions and enduring peace after civil conflict

Abstract

Why does fighting recur following some civil conflict peace settlements, but not others? What kind of agreements are associated with more enduring peace? Post-conflict elections can often complicate and even undermine peace agreements. Agreements that contain “electoral participation provisions,” however, may help stabilize settlements and produce more enduring peace. Electoral participation provisions mandate that rebel groups be allowed to compete alongside the government in post-conflict elections. Such provisions encourage external actors, such as intergovernmental organizations and foreign donors, to become engaged in post-conflict elections. As part of this engagement, they can provide incentives to the parties to adhere to the terms of the settlement, as well as detect and sanction instances of noncompliance. New cross-national data suggest that conflict after peace settlements recurs less often when electoral participation provisions are included than when they are not. The data also suggest that this pacifying relationship holds when combatants expect international engagement.

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