Matthijs Bogaards

The Choice for Proportional Representation: Electoral System Design in Peace Agreements

Civil wars, 15, 2013, 71-87

After a civil war, there is a keen interest in ‘getting the institutions right’. This article summarizes our knowledge of one particular institution, the electoral system, through a review of the literature on power sharing and electoral systems in post-conflict societies. Surprisingly, there is little statistical support for the conviction that proportional representation (PR) contributes to inclusive political institutions and thereby to peace and democracy. More positively, a closer look at electoral system design as integral part of peace agreements reveals that PR is the standard choice, that it works as intended, and has a good record in securing peace, though less so of democracy. Future research should look at electoral system design as part of the peace process to explain these findings and draw lessons.