Institutt for sammenliknende politikk

Workshop: Dynamics of Party Politics After War - Call for papers

Illustration photo: www.colourbox.no

Call for papers

In recent decades, many former rebels – armed movements challenging the ruling government – have replaced their old adversaries in power, often following brokered peace agreements that enable rebel groups to transform into political parties, mobilize voters and ultimately stand for elections. To date, most studies that have examined the evolution of rebel groups in peace times have been limited to focusing on the strategic choices of the leaders of these groups; whether they decide to adapt to, evade, or exit the post-war political arena (De Zeeuw 2007; Manning 2007). Others have examined the factors that explain electoral success of former rebel groups that turned into political parties (Söderberg Kovacs 2008; Allison 2010, 2006) as well as intra-party struggles that shape the transformation processes. Yet, critical analysis of the broader dynamics of political mobilization within and in relation to these groups in the post-conflict phase remains limited. We believe there is both a need for and space for a broader focus on how the legacy of an armed conflict structures continued mobilization in the peace era. Most importantly, there is a need for more careful case studies that explicitly allow for comparisons across cases. The aim of this interdisciplinary workshop is to explore in more detail what happens after armed mobilization; how is mobilization utilized, conditioned and structured especially as armed groups turn political parties? This focus allows us to broaden the meaning of political mobilization to not only include party formation and electoral mobilization, but to assess from different angles and theoretical perspectives how former rebels and rebel groups mobilize within and beyond parties in the peace era.


In addition to the actual parties and their organization, this includes studies of political mobilization in contexts where the rebel group has failed to make the transition into one political party, but where individual ex-combatants find alternative arenas for legitimate (or illegitimate) political participation at the local and national levels. To what degree do the origins of these actors continue to matter? Is there evidence of path dependency within this field? Another perspective to consider is that the transformation and subsequent electoral success do not necessarily signify political reconciliation. For instance, to what extent does the transformation from armed group into political party signify political moderation? We believe that an inside view of mobilization, and the internal (negotiation) politics of these political actors, will shed light on the development of post-war politics as well as provide a much needed bottom-up perspective on non-traditional political parties. Bringing together scholars of diverse disciplinary backgrounds, we invite papers on topics related to post-conflict party mobilization that could address, but are not limited to:

  •  The utility of party theory as a conceptual framework for investigating parties and party mobilization.
  • The role of political parties in forwarding democratization in the aftermath of war.
  • The internal party organization such as the dynamics and prospects for intra-party democracy, governance strategies and capacities for parliamentary behavior and governance.
  • Micro-level mobilization by ex-combatants within parties or through extra-party associations such as interest groups, social movements, paramilitary groups.
  • The role and impact of international democracy and party assistance in post-conflict contexts.

Time, Location and Funding

The workshop will be held at the University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway, 19-20th of March 2015. Partially funded by Bergen University Fund, the workshop will cover accommodation (two nights) and meals during the workshop. Partial travel assistance might be possible upon request.