This book focuses on the design and operation of power-sharing in deeply divided societies.
Beyond this starting point, it seeks to examine the different ways in which consociational institutions emerge from negotiations and peace settlements across three counter-intuitive cases – post-Brexit referendum Northern Ireland, the Brussels Capital Region and Cyprus. Across each of the chapters, the analysis assesses how the design or mediation of these various forms of power-sharing demonstrate similarity, difference and complexity in how consociationalism has been conceived of and operated within each of these contexts. Finally, a key objective of the book is to explore and evaluate how ideas surrounding power-sharing have evolved and changed incrementally within each of the empirical contexts. The unifying argument within the book is that power-sharing has to have the capacity to adapt to changing political circumstances, and that this can be achieved through the interplay of formal and informal micro-level refinements to these institutions and the procedures that govern them, that allow such institutions to evolve over time in ways that increase their utility as conflict transformation governance structures for deeply divided societies.
This book fills the gap in the published literature between theoretical and empirical studies of power-sharing, and will be of much interest to students of peace and conflict studies, consociationalism, European politics and IR in general.
"Mediating Power Sharing is a superb read for those interested in the concept of power sharing. It takes an authoritative look at three power sharing areas in the world. It characterises the good and the not so good, but very interestingly makes a compelling case for these institutions to evolve. They cite many examples where the need for and ability to reform has helped continue the journey of building trust and consensus. They warn of the dangers of trying to freeze power-sharing in time in order to avoid solidifying the societal differences, which made it necessary in first place. Reform can take different forms, from all-party talks, with or without outside facilitators, to the legislative processes – and no matter how painstakingly slow the processes can be, they are always worthwhile. With expert knowledge and first-hand experience of observing these institutions and their Members work, the authors have tracked the changes with the passage of time and what impact that has had.
Whilst not losing sight of fundamental principles and safeguards, the most successful and enduring democracies in the world have had flexible and evolving constitutions and political systems. Regions and countries with consociational systems and power-sharing governments need to embrace this reality. All parties interested in making power-sharing work in the long-term would do well to read Mediating Power-Sharing."
- John McCallister, Commissioner at the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and former MLA for South Down and Deputy Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party in Northern Ireland
"Even if every case proves specific, "power to the peaceful" might be the motto of all consociational states around the globe. Belgium and the Brussels Capital Region, amongst others, can provide a useful example for divided societies: our institutional system, although complex, undoubtedly fulfills the aim of serene living between the Flemish and French communities."
- Minister-President of the Brussels Capital Region, Rudi Vervoort
Well-grounded in the contemporary scholarship about how best to manage conflict in divided societies, this book offers an interesting and insightful comparison of Northern Ireland, Brussels, and Cyprus. Highlighting similarities and differences in the cases and the ways they have been managed, the main conclusion of the authors is that flexibility and adaptability over time are critical, but often neglected ingredients of successful conflict settlement. Relevant far beyond the enduring and inconclusive debates about the best ‘model’ of conflict settlement, this is an important lesson that will resonate well with students and practitioners in the cases covered here and further afield.
- Professor Stefan Wolff, University of Birmingham , UK
1. Devolution and Powersharing in Northern Ireland
2. ‘Living Consociationalism’ in the Brussels Capital Region
3. A Federal Cyprus? ‘Integrating Alternative Power-Sharing Models