Panel: Experiences with Power Sharing in Deeply Divided Societies of the Middle East


Raum: F2, 1.0G, Fürstenberghaus
Tag Zeit    
Do 13:30-14:00 Khnifess Power Sharing and Political Stability in Two Arab –Palestinian Towns in Israel
Do 14:00-14:30 Rosiny Concepts and Practices of Power-sharing in the Middle East
Do 14:30-15:00 Sahib Consociational Democracy in the Eyes of Iraqi Politicians

Leitung des Panels

Stephan Rosiny

Beschreibung des Panels

The panel covers power-sharing arrangements in multi-ethnic societies of the Arab Middle East. It presents their chances and challenges and investigates which lessons may be drawn from their experience for the situation in conflict prone countries like Syria and Bahrain.

Abstracts der Einzelvorträge

Haider, Sahib: Consociational Democracy in the Eyes of Iraqi Politicians

This paper examines perceptions among Iraqi parliamentarians and senior officials regarding power-sharing approaches, specifically the extent to which having a power-sharing arrangement on the executive level is suitable for Iraq. The paper focuses on their attitudes toward the current power-sharing scheme in the political system, where they think the pitfalls are coming from, and what they think the alternatives might be. The methodology used in this research is mainly a series of interviews conducted with high-ranking politicians from various political groups.

During the interviews, the future of the federation with Kurdistan was one of the subjects that was discussed heavily. A quasi-consensus among the interviewees about the un-sustainability of the current federation emerges in a more liberal fashion than in TV interviews, press conferences, and public statements. Similar discussions, but with less intensity, are brought on the possibility, and perhaps the “merits”, of the division of Iraq into three separate entities in case power-sharing arrangements did not succeed in bringing different political groups together. In addition, the interviews show emphasis by members of the Islamic Da’awa party, a Shia group dominant in the government, on plans to form a majority government in the future and ending the current power-sharing arrangement in the cabinet, as they think it is not possible to repeat the “mistakes of the past that led to the paralysis of the government”.

Khnifess, Amir: Power Sharing and Political Stability in Two Arab –Palestinian Towns in Israel

This paper compares the political stability of two Arab towns from the northern part of the State of Israel: Shafa’ Amer and Mghar. Both towns belong to a group of Arab towns and villages in the Galilee with heterogeneous societies which are divided along religious lines, mainly Muslims, Christians and Druze. The paper argues that power-sharing amongst the local authority (in Arabic Baladiah) in Shafa‘ Amer has played a major role in the peaceful relationship between the local inhabitants. This is in contrast to the Arab town of Tamrah which has witnessed contentious and even violent relationships between the local inhabitants from different religious communities over the last two decades, mainly as a result of local authority control by the Muslim-Sunni majority. 

By using the two towns as a case study, the paper aims to contribute to the growing literature on inter-ethnic relationships within the Arab Palestinian minority in Israel. It also contributes to the limited literature on power-sharing at the level of local authorities, which so far has been predominantly focused on power-sharing at the State’s central power. This is especially true if one asks whether power –sharing at the level of State’s central power is sufficient for reducing intergroup conflict in divided societies.

Rosiny, Stephan: Concepts and Practices of Power-sharing in the Middle East

In recent decades, different models of power-sharing have become a prevalent paradigm for fixing peace agreements and introducing democratic rule in multi-ethnic post-war societies. In the Middle East, Lebanon and Iraq provide two examples of such agreements in which representatives of different communities and provinces obtained guaranteed shares of power, either by oral agreement or by written accord. The presentation will discuss the chances and pitfalls of such arrangements. I will also scrutinize the experiences derived from these two cases and ask for lessons to be drawn for political solutions in other deeply divided societies of the Middle East, e.g. Syria and Bahrain.