Power-sharing is a governance approach favoured by external actors for building state capacity and legitimacy in post-conflict societies. Yet it can be unstable and crisis-prone, compelling external actors to guide cross-community cooperation. Why and how do external actors seek to maintain power-sharing and prevent its collapse when operational difficulties emerge? We explore the distinction between ‘light touch’ and ‘heavy hand’ techniques and the motivations of external actors in defusing power-sharing crises. We find a trade-off between the short-term value of crisis management (‘putting out fires’) and the long-term objectives of sustainable local arrangements and external exit (local actors ‘going it alone’).
- external actors
- political crisis