The crisis of liberal peace, which achieved pre-eminence in the post-bipolar era, has recently emerged as a result of a growing array of problems and failures. The operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have illustrated the seatbacks of international liberal peacebuilding. Other approaches, such as “hybrid peace” or “resilience”, have radically questioned the main top-down assumptions of Western humanitarian interventions. At the same time, comparative politics literature has devoted a considerable attention to the understanding of state institutions and rule of law in democratization process of democratization. However, most research surprisingly lacks systematic cross-cases institutional analyses capable of identifying the explaining variables of success or failure in regime stability in non-homogenous societies. Combining traditional institutional perspectives with critical peacebuilding approaches, this paper aims at filling this gap, providing an innovative viewpoint on the key factors that foster stability in “new democracies”.
After having revised the institutional variables taken into account in the literature (types of government, electoral systems, political parties and federal system, etc.), the paper illustrates the limits of parliamentarism in non-homogenous societies, where ethnic and religious cleavages put at risk effectiveness and legitimacy of government without proper mechanisms of inclusion of all the relevant social groups. In fact, while several institutional studies have highlighted the virtues of coalitional governments and parliamentarian systems in homogenous societies, few analyses have put emphasis on the inadequacy of the same instruments in a completely different context, as those faced by recent international peacebuilding interventions.
Through a qualitative cross-cases research based on primary and secondary sources, the paper examines the factors that have successfully promoted stability, looking at constitutional guarantees, third-parties interventions, counterbalancing mechanisms, regional dimension and institutional tools aimed at representing and including all strategic actors.