Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=913053
 
 

Citations (8)



 
 

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Political Conflict and Power-Sharing in the Origins of Modern Colombia


James A. Robinson


Harvard University - Department of Government; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Sebastian Mazzuca


University of California, Berkeley - Charles and Louise Travers Department of Political Science

April 2006

Centre for Economic Policy Research Discussion Paper No. 5606

Abstract:     
In this paper we present historical evidence and a theoretical analysis of the origins of political stability and instability in Colombia for the period 1850-1950, and their relationship to political, particularly electoral, institutions. We show that the driving force behind institutional change over this period, specifically the move to proportional representation (PR), was the desire of the Conservative and Liberal parties to come up with a way of credibly dividing power to avoid civil war and conflict, a force intensified by the brutal conflict of the War of a Thousand days between 1899 and 1902. The problem with majoritarian electoral institutions was that they did not allocate power in a way which matched the support of the parties in the population, thus encouraging conflict. The strategic advantage of PR was that it avoided such under-representation. The parties however could not initially move to PR because it was not 'fraud proof' so instead, in 1905, adopted the 'incomplete vote' which simply allocated 2/3 of the legislative seats to the winning party and 1/3 to the loser. This formula brought peace. The switch to PR arose when the Liberals became confident that they could solve problems of fraud. But it only happened because they were able to exploit a division within the Conservatives. The switch also possibly reflected a concern with the rising support for socialism and the desire to divide power more broadly. Our findings shed new light on the origins of electoral systems and the nature of political conflict and its resolution.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 58

Keywords: Conflict, political institutions, electoral institutions, power

JEL Classification: D7

working papers series


Date posted: June 29, 2006  

Suggested Citation

Robinson, James A. and Mazzuca, Sebastian, Political Conflict and Power-Sharing in the Origins of Modern Colombia (April 2006). Centre for Economic Policy Research Discussion Paper No. 5606. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=913053

Contact Information

James A. Robinson (Contact Author)
Harvard University - Department of Government ( email )
1737 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-2839 (Phone)
617-495-8292 (Fax)
Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)
77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
Sebastian Mazzuca
University of California, Berkeley - Charles and Louise Travers Department of Political Science ( email )
210 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States
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