Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Friday, May 29, 2015

Students examine transitional national governments

To read the report

The report Governments of National Unity: Analyzing Conditions Influencing Dissolution is available online.

How temporary governments formed through negotiated settlements between opponents with the intent to end or forestall conflict end up dissolving is the topic of a new study from the La Follette School of Public Affairs.

The report analyzes the factors that contribute to or inhibit peaceful dissolution of these governments of national unity. "Formed by opposing groups or elite actors by codifying power-sharing provisions in a settlement that ends or forestall violence, governments of national unity can unify past aggressors in a common vision for the future and usher in a new era of peace and stability," says Allison Sambo, one of the authors.

Sambo is one of seven graduate students who produced the report for the U.S. Government Office of South Asia Analysis as part of La Follette School's Workshop in International Public Affairs taught by Melanie Manion. The other students are Dylan Blake, Olivia Butler, Ryan Dunk, Michelle Duren, Katie Jenkins and Joel Lashmore.

"We found that the type of conflict preceding the formation of a government of national unity, the level of fractionalization in the country, the levels of economic growth, and the institutional strength of a GNU significantly influence the type of dissolution," Sambo says. A GNU emerging from a conflict that ended in a decisive victory was less likely to dissolve with conflict. Economic growth increased the likelihood a GNU would dissolve without conflict. Finally, our measure of institutional strength—rule of law—had a large and positive effect on peaceful dissolution."

"Our findings suggest the U.S. government can play an important role in promoting stability through GNUs," Sambo adds. "Regional and international actors have been vital to bringing parties together in negotiations, facilitating the formation of power-sharing agreements, and supporting the responsibilities of GNUs."