Home Political science After Ethnic Conflict : Policy-making in Post-conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia
Institutional Framework: Post-conflict Institutions
If ethnic identity is socially constructed and not fixed and immutable, but rather recreated through everyday political practices and routines, such everyday political practices and routines are crucial to understanding the dynamics of ethnic identities. A closer look at daily political practices and their outcomes shows that practices are not random, but rather the outcomes of the constraints and incentives that institutions place on the political actors. They are enabled or limited by institutions which organise and structure the political process. Institutions affect how actors behave in different situations and how they perceive themselves under different circumstances; they shape actors' identities.
The most appropriate definition of institutions for this analysis is therefore March and Olsen's view of institutions as 'collections of interrelated rules and routines that define appropriate actions in terms of relations between roles and situations'.19 While institutions affect elites' behaviour by defining appropriate actions and roles for them, they do not completely determine that behaviour. Institutions provide rules and roles for actors, but different sets of rules may be applied in any given situation. Actors can choose from the available rules depending on the nature of the situation (novel, routine, crisis), their perception of it, their role and what they find to be the most appropriate course of action.20 Such a definition allows sufficient space for agency and does not over-determine political elite behaviour, while still providing a framework for analysing the impact that institutions have on actors' choices.
It is not surprising that institutional reform and overhaul are used as the main tools for post-conflict political recovery, since they are expected to provide the necessary constraints and incentives for political actors to avoid violence and war.21 Post-conflict politics is largely institutional politics, and studying the progress and challenges of post-conflict states implies a strong focus on institutional dynamics and their influence on political actors. Most peace agreements, including the Dayton and Ohrid Agreements in Bosnia and Macedonia, contain constitutional reforms designed to allow the establishment of new institutions that
19 James G. March and Johan P. Olsen, Re-discovering Institutions (New York: The Free Press, 1989). p. 160.
20 March and Olsen, Re-discovering Institutions, pp. 21–38.
21 Nancy Bermeo, 'The Import of Institutions', Journal of Democracy, 13 (2002): 96–110; Stefan Wolff, 'Managing Ethnic Conflicts: The Merits and Perils of Territorial Accommodation', Political Studies Review, 9 (2011): 26–41. can better regulate inter-ethnic relations and enable the resolving of ethnically sensitive issues in a peaceful manner. As a result, this book first examines the institutional structures of these two states to seek explanations for their uneven patterns of ethnic accommodation and resistance. In particular, the focus is on the power-sharing arrangements and informal practices that characterise the states' political processes.
Academic debate on power-sharing institutions originates with the publication of Arend Lijphart's theory of 'consociationalism', or consociational democracy. This was based on his study of the Netherlands and what he saw as Dutch exceptionalism in achieving stability of the democratic regime despite the divided society.22 Consociationalism, or power-sharing, is a set of power-sharing principles which allow deeply divided societies to engage in peaceful moderation of conflicting and diverging group interests. According to Lijphart, the four main principles of consociational democracy are: grand (executive) coalition, proportionality (in distribution of parliamentary seats, political power and resources), group autonomy (most often territorial but also functional) and veto rights (for minority groups' protection of vital interests). These four principles comprise the core of power-sharing mechanisms employed in divided states, a combination of some or all of which would be applicable to most divided societies, regardless of the nature of the societal division, or the socio-economic and political context. In his later works, Lijphart introduced additional factors (parliamentary political system, double legislative chamber, durability of cabinets, constitutional flexibility),23 but the four basic principles of power-sharing remain central to the consociationalism debate. They remain an integral part of institutional design practice, as they are the most durable and most frequently implemented mechanisms of power-sharing. Indeed, both the Bosnian and Macedonian political systems to a different extent exhibit these power-sharing mechanisms, which were introduced as part of the post-conflict institutional redesign in order to avoid a relapse into ethnic conflict.
Grand executive coalition refers to an inclusive process of coalition-building in government, where political parties or subjects representing all ethnic groups between which power is shared join the government. This principle is aimed at achieving cooperation between different groups and can vary in terms of the inclusiveness of political actors, from a grand all-inclusive coalition which includes all parties, through a single catch-all-party government, to a simple coalition including one party from each group.24 Through coalition government, it is intended that political representatives from each ethnic group take part in the
22 Arend Lijphart, The Politics of Accommodation: Pluralism and Democracy in the Netherlands (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1968).
23 Arend Lijphart, Democracies. Patterns of Majoritarian and Consensus Government in 21 Countries (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1984).
24 Arendt Lijphart, (1969) 'Consociational Democracy' in World Politics. 21:2, 207–25. decision-making process, that they work together with representatives of other ethnic groups within a single cabinet, and that they come up with common policy solutions to problems troubling one or all ethnic groups in the society. Thus ethnic groups literally share the political power in their state, as opposed to dividing the power between sectors or between regional administrative levels, for instance.
Coalition governments, while inclusive of representatives of all ethnic (or other) groups, do not prevent intra-group political competition or multiple political parties from competing for the votes of a single group. In both Macedonia and Bosnia, executive coalitions are accompanied by within-group political competition, which adds a competitive element to the political process and ensures that the beneficial effects of opposition in democratic regimes are preserved. Coalition governments point to an important feature of power-sharing institutions – political elites as major actors upon which the responsibility for implementing power-sharing resides. Indeed the success of executive coalitions depends on the good will of political elites and their inclination to cooperate across ethnic lines. If political elites refuse to work with their counterparts from other ethnic groups, no functioning coalition can be forged and the efforts at power sharing will be futile. In Bosnia coalition governments are a constitutional requirement, while in Macedonia they are an established practice. At the policy level they remain constant, which is why they are not taken as an explanatory factor of ethnic accommodation, but rather as its prerequisite.
The second power-sharing principle – proportionality – is aimed at increasing the representativeness of the political system by allowing fair representation of all ethnic groups in state institutions.25 Parliamentary representation is most often ensured through electoral engineering, such as adaptation of the electoral system, rearrangement of the size of electoral districts, or reserved seats in parliament. Both Bosnia and Macedonia have a closed list PR electoral system where political parties propose lists of candidates. Bosnia has a complex electoral structure combining bi-cameralism and federal parliaments, but the principle of proportionality is enforced at all levels (local, canton, entity and state). Proportionality also entails proportional distribution of resources between groups, such as fiscal decentralisation to bring resources closer to communities, and ethnically sensitive budgeting. In Macedonia fiscal decentralisation is aimed at ensuring fair access to state resources, while in Bosnia each of the entities and cantons has a separate budget. The proportionality principle, especially the PR electoral system, has been the subject of sustained academic criticism from 'integrationist' scholars, who claim it reinforces and strengthens ethnic divisions instead of bridging them. Horowitz criticises the PR electoral system as a divisive
25 Arend Lijphart, 'Self-determination versus Pre-determination of Ethnic Minorities in Power-sharing Systems', in Thinking about Democracy (London; NY: Routledge, 2008). rather than an integrative measure in an already divided society, and advocates more integrationist measures, such as an alternative vote electoral system.26
Representation is often supplemented by the devolution of political power from a centralised unitary state to various forms of group autonomy – usually territorial, especially in cases where the ethnic groups involved are concentrated compactly within a region of the state territory. Although Lijphart did not emphasise the territorial aspect of group autonomy, lately power-sharing scholars have embraced territorial power-sharing as part of the power-sharing instrumentarium,27 despite the controversial position of territorial solutions to ethnic conflicts in the conflictresolution literature.28 There is no unified form of territorial power-sharing that can be used as a template in all ethnically divided societies. Practical instances of territorial power-sharing range from fairly extensive models to relatively limited territorial devolution. Bosnia is constituted as a federation of two entities, each of which has considerable political powers. Its Bosnian-Croat entity is further split into regional units – cantons, and into municipalities at the local level. Macedonia, in contrast, has only increased the authority of its local government units through more limited decentralisation. The extent of territorial power-sharing can depend on many factors, such as the groups' homogeneity, or on the strategic and economic significance of the territory to the state.29 In all cases, however, it is intended to provide some form of self-government for the minority group.
In addition to territorial autonomy, power-sharing can include functional autonomy: political and economic transfer of policy competencies to groups' control or to local governments. In the latter case, local political elites gain de facto autonomy over the policy process in specific policy areas where the political centre plays only a limited role. Functional autonomy has received limited academic attention beyond the discussion and recommendation of cultural and educational autonomy by authors who do not subscribe to the view that territorial solutions can reduce ethnic conflicts.30 In general, functional autonomy is considered a less empowering solution to ethnic demands, one that is only offered as a substitute for
26 Donald Horowitz, Ethnic Groups in Conflict (Berkeley: University of California, 1985); Donald Horowitz, A Democratic South Africa? Constitutional Engineering in a Divided Society (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991).
27 John McGarry and Brendan O'Leary, The Northern Ireland Conflict:
Consociational Engagements (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).
28 See: Nicholas Sambanis and Jonah Schuhofer-Wohl, 'What's in a Line? Is Partition a Solution to Civil War?', International Security, 34 (2009): 82–118; Erin K. Jenne, 'The Paradox of Ethnic partition: Lessons from de facto partition in Bosnia and Kosovo', Regional and Federal Studies, 19 (2009): 273–89.
29 Stefan Wolf, 'Complex Power-Sharing and the Centrality of Territorial Selfgovernance in Contemporary Conflict Settlements', Ethnopolitics, 8 (March 2009): 27–45. 30 Ted R. Gurr, Minorities at Risks: A Global View of Ethnopolitical Conflict
(Washington DC: US Institute of Peace Press, 1993). territorial autonomy.31 Because the analysis in this book is focused on the policy level and the accommodation of political elites over controversial policy areas, the forthcoming analysis also reflects on the effects that functional autonomy in specific policy areas can have on elite accommodation.
Territorial and functional autonomy allow decision-making autonomy in specified policy areas, which can have positive or adverse effects on the likelihood of political elites' ethnic accommodation. Autonomy, as a means of self-governance of ethnic groups within a single state, increases the inclusion of previously marginalized groups in the political process.32 However, territorial power-sharing can be a stepping stone to partition and secession. This is claimed by Rothchild and Roeder, who assert that territorial power-sharing provides ethnic leaders with 'institutional weapons' with which to launch successful secession claims, because it gives them the capacity to mobilise the masses and gather the necessary resources.33 Roeder also suggests that the success of self-determination and secession claims is to a large extent determined by the institutional resources available to political entrepreneurs, of which territorial autonomy and federalism are certainly among the most powerful.34 Therefore, the following chapters study the impact that the various different forms of territorial and functional autonomy in Bosnia and Macedonia have over the interactions of political elites.
The fi power-sharing principle refers to groups' veto rights in the decisionmaking and policy-making processes. Bieber, who studied the power-sharing arrangements in the Western Balkans, considers veto rights to be the 'most controversial mechanism' in these states because 'they have the largest impact on decision-making processes'.35 Veto rights give some or all (minority) groups the power to block the adoption and implementation of specifi policies that are seen as harmful for the group. The range and nature of those veto powers can vary in different states. In Bosnia the veto can be invoked when one of the three ethnic groups fi its 'vital national interests' endangered by a specifi policy proposal, while in Macedonia only a limited list of policies are subject to it. In Macedonia there are no veto powers as such, but a requirement for double majorities in parliament when passing legislation in certain policies plays virtually the same role.
31 Marc Weller and Katherine Nobbs, Asymmetric Autonomy and the Settlement of
Ethnic Conflicts (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010).
32 McGarry and O'Leary, Northern Ireland Conflict.
33 Donald Rothchild and Phillip Roeder, 'Power Sharing as an Impediment to Peace and Democracy', in Dilemmas of State-building in Divided Societies, ed. D. Rothchild and
P. Roeder (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2005).
34 Phillip Roeder, Where Nation-states Come From: Institutional Change in the Age of Nationalism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007); Phillip Roeder and Donald Rothchild, Sustainable Peace: Power and Democracy after Civil Wars (New York: Cornell University Press, 2005).
35 F. Bieber, 'The Challenge of Institutionalizing Ethnicity in the Western Balkans: Managing Change in Deeply Divided Societies', European Yearbook of Minority Issues, Vol.3 (2003–4), p. 93. The double majority requirement means that in addition to the overall majority votes which are required for the legislation to pass, a majority of non-majority ethnic groups' deputies also need to support the proposal. The purpose of veto rights and qualified majorities is to give minority groups a greater say in the decision-making process to compensate for their minority status and numerical inferiority in parliament and government.
By looking at how political elites interact in the policy process in areas where veto rights apply, this book investigates the impact that vetoes and qualified majority voting have on political elites in the policy process. It examines when elite accommodation is more or less likely to take place as a result.
The main elements of power-sharing institutional arrangements discussed above do not exhaust the list of institutional solutions that are, or can be applied, to post-conflict ethnically divided societies. Bosnia and Macedonia display different forms of these power-sharing principles along with a number of other measures to assist the peaceful and consensus-oriented nature of the political process, which has earned them the label 'complex power-sharing systems'.36 This book does not aim to comprehensively analyse all of the institutional peculiarities in the two countries. Instead, by looking at the empirical evidence from the policy process in two power-sharing systems, it aims to shed additional light on when and under what conditions certain power-sharing institutions are more or less likely to contribute to greater ethnic accommodation.
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