Corporate Finance Advisory and Consulting    © 2013 Hartland Capital - All rights reserved Terms and Conditions | Disclaimer Politics of civil coexistence The determinants of civil peace in societies which are divided by religion or ethnicity, studied empirically based on the examples of Switzerland and Lebanon Introduction In many ways civil coexistence is the initial purpose of politics. Certainly, those countries which are divided culturally almost  always adopt a form of government and constitution which are expressly designed for maintaining order in society. Intuitively  this makes sense; a country in chaos cannot be governed so it is pointless to do politics as long as order is not ensured. Civil  peace is a pre-condition to every other aspect of politics, and therefore is a priority concern to political science.  Beyond the academic interest this presents, the issue of peaceful coexistence is also one of practical urgency, considering the  number of dead each year from those civil wars and that as I am writing this there are at least six going on in the world, mostly  in Africa and Asia.  Hence the question: what political traits in a state are most effective in keeping civil coexistence?  Regarding the theoretical basis on which to work towards an answer, one fundamental area of study within comparative politics  is the way in which power is shared among different agents of a given polity responding to political and historical imperatives.  This is what political scientists call “consociationalism”.  The notion of power-sharing takes on a new level of importance when dealing with countries which are culturally divided.  Cultural divisions, whether religious or ethnic, lead almost invariably to civil conflicts of varying degrees of gravity, which will  have led their governments in time to adopt a political system fitted around the need to avoid them. Yet from one country to  another, the chosen solutions and their level of success vary enough to make this a fertile object of study.  Among the countries that fit into this topic, Switzerland and Lebanon are two examples which, because of the important  differences between them, are good cases to study in an attempt to further an answer to this question. Findings  From what has been written on this subject before. These have to do with very different areas of study, whether it is the political  structure of the state strictly speaking, the geopolitical situation, the economic conjuncture, or with the nature of the sectarian  cleavages themselves. We can now test these hypotheses against the two examples of Switzerland and Lebanon.  Starting with inherent traits, I shall begin with the idea that religious cleavages are more difficult to overcome than ethnic ones.  We must then test whether in fact a society is less likely to descend into chaos if it is divided in more than two parts, rather than  split down the middle in roughly equal parts. This is followed by testing the importance of economic factors on civil stability.  Then, there is the idea that communities coexist better when they are physically separated from one another. Moving on to  structural and policy factors, we must then examine the importance of good representation within a consociational model. Next,  there is the destabilising effect of foreign conflict on civil peace. Then, there is the responsibility of elites in allowing the regime  to function. Next, finishing with elements to do with popular sentiment, the notion that diversity in society does not equal  “division”, that has the potential to create conflict. In our final exploration, we will look at the potential relevance of the nature  of the relation between members of the different communities at a personal and non-political level.  Are religious divisions easier to overlook than ethnic ones? The examples at hand are ideal in this regard because while Lebanon is unified ethnically as an Arab country, Switzerland is  impossible to define on an ethnic basis. In addition, there are some religious divisions in Swiss society, though they are all  branches of Christianity (Catholics and Protestants). It is easier to ascertain the importance of this factor in civil conflict because  when a conflict centres on one of these fault lines, it is usually explicitly visible in the different parties. Let us therefore take a  look at the history of civil war in Lebanon before turning to that of Switzerland.  The most recent civil war in Lebanon has been the one which started in 1975 and ended in 1990. On that occasion there was a  clear line of division between Christians on the one hand and Muslims on the other. Specifically, the Maronite faction was  mainly represented by parties such as the Phalangist while the Muslim side was embodied by left-wing pan-Arab parties such as  the Lebanese National Movement. These parties typically do not refer to themselves officially as either Christian or Muslim, but  given both their membership, sources of support and ideologies, nobody is under any impression that they do not belong to a  certain side. This would be especially futile in a country like Lebanon which is officially divided among sects.   Nor was the war of 1975 the first time Lebanon experienced internal chaos. A two-part conflict of the same nature took place in 1842 and 1860, this time between the Maronite and Druze communities. There again, it is impossible to believe this was anything other than a religious conflict. Lebanon was not any more diverse ethnically then as it is now; furthermore, unlike in 1975 where the belligerents were headed by parties which were officially secular, those fighting the wars of the 19th century were explicitly religious. Namely, the Maronite side was led by a Patriarch and the Druze by their sectarian leaders. Turning now to Switzerland, while there have been hostilities between Romande (Francophone) and Germanic groups, these  have not led to a full-scale civil war. All in all, Switzerland has not gone through an armed internal conflict in over 150 years,  whereas in the same span of time, not counting foreign conflicts, Lebanon has gone through three. As if to stress the point even  more, the civil war that did happen in Switzerland in 1847, the Sonderbund War, was very short and was not a struggle along  ethnic lines Switzerland, but along a religious one, specifically between Catholics and Protestants.  On this point, it seems rather clear as Dekmejian suggested, that the type of cleavage makes a difference and, at least from these  examples, that ethnic groups cohabit more easily than sectarian ones.  Multiple cleavages are easier to manage than half-and-half splits This idea is present in the papers by Seaver and Dekmejian that another inherent factor which pre-determines the chances of  peace in otherwise divided countries is the way groups are split. If there are more than two, it will be easier to maintain order  than if there are two segments of roughly equal size, inevitably trying to overpower the other demographically and politically.  At first sight, these examples validate this view: Lebanon, however has two main communities, while Switzerland has four:  Romande (Francophone), Germanic, Italian and Romanche. Yet Dekmejian questions this claim, at least insofar as Lebanon  goes, saying there are actually multiple sects within the two main ones (eg. Sunnis and Shias). While this is true of course, I  would say the civil war has shown despite their difference virtually all Muslims have been on the same side in the conflict, so  Lebanon is still a good example.   In addition, while this was not true during the war, nowadays Muslims are indeed divided, Hezbollah (Shia) being allied with  the Maronite president and in a rivalry with the Sunni Prime Minister, which, so far, though it has created tensions and crises,  has not led to war in decades. Despite Dekmejian’s resevations, we can still count this as a key variable.  Economic factors Seaver and Dekmejian point to the importance of economic indicators in predicting civil conflict. They propose that  communities are less likely to go to war if their socio-economic status are reasonably similar and a class struggle is not  superimposed on cultural divisions.   This is less credible when looking at our two examples. It is true that there is a chronic imbalance in Lebanon between the  average wealth of Christians compared to Muslims, especially Shias. Yet economic disparities exist also between Germanic,  Romande and Italian cantons in Switzerland, which is also parallel to their respective size and therefore political power. Figures  by the Swiss government from 2005 show Germanic cantons are richer than Romande ones by about 20% and Ticino (the only  Italian canton) is barely richer than even the poorest Germanic canton (Obwald). This is not enough, therefore, to explain civil  conflict. However, we must not disregard the importance of economic factors altogether, because while the distribution in both countries  is similar, the level of income in each is very different, and no Swiss canton is poor, even by European standard. We might  conclude that communities will not revolt if they think the other one is richer than they are but will if they think it is keeping  them in poverty. Development is a more crucial variable in the failure or success of power-sharing.  This is also important for another reason: for elites to maintain cohesion in society, they need a sufficient level of legitimacy. As  the saying goes, we judge a tree by its fruits. Part of this is the economic record of the government and people are more likely to  work to uphold a system which provides material ease, which has not been the case in Lebanon.  It is clear economic factors are necessary to take into account. Physical separation of communities Next, we turn to a hypothesis put forward by Richard Dekmejian that civil peace owes in part to what he calls “high  encapsulation”, meaning communities are physically separated from one another.   He argues that in normal times, living in proximity could foster amity between the groups, but very quickly in times of crisis,  this could have the opposite effect. In short, it is less likely to develop prejudices about people you never see.  At first glance, it would seem the two examples at hand rather provide empirical support for this view. However, I will argue  that while there is certainly a lot of truth to this, it is not as clear cut as it might seem at first.   An aspect which is immediately apparent is the fact that ethic communities in Switzerland are associated with geographic  regions – cantons – and therefore members of each community do not often see each other often in their daily lives.  Communities in Lebanon, on the other hand, are much more intertwined geographically, as Dekmejian points out. Looking at  the chain of events that triggered the civil war in 1975, one can see why proximity was a factor. These were urban attacks like  the “Bus Massacre” on the 13th April 1975 or “Black Satruday”, the 6th December 1975. This led to an escalation of attacks from one side on the other, facilitated by the fact that each armed group could easily get to their targets.   Aside from these specific events, the presence in each district of Christians and Muslims created a more political problem. The  National Pact of 1943 was an agreement between the communities to share power in the country. Among other things, this  means there are a fixed number of seats in Parliament reserved for Christians and for Muslims (with a ratio of six Christians for  five Muslims) and therefore in each constituency the candidates must be from the designated community. Yet because the  population distribution was less clearly cut and did not follow district borders, as it does in Switzerland, candidates by way of  consequence, from one community nonetheless also need the votes of people from a different community. Thus, they have to  represent one confessional group as part of the National Pact but were elected – and therefore must represent – members of a  different group. This naturally raised a major problem of representativeness to which I shall come back, but it is important to  note right here that this was a direct consequence of the geographical closeness of the social segments.  Dekmejian’s point can be supported further if we look at the changes in this variable in Lebanon from before to after the Cold  War. The map on ETH Zurich’s platform (ETH Zurich, GROWUP) shows quite clearly that after 1990, the areas inhabited by  one group or the other are much larger and clearly defined than they were on the eve of the civil war. This could have  contributed to the fact a conflict has not reoccurred despite serious political crises in past thirty years.  That being said, this explanation is not wholly satisfactory on its own for several reasons. Firstly, while Lebanon has not been at  war for almost thirty years, it is not true that has been no, or even a tolerable amount of sectarian violence. There are still  frequent attacks against religious communities, and while it is important to note they have not, unlike in 1975, led to a  disintegration of the state, it is equally important not to ignore them altogether.   Secondly, Lebanese history provides an example where physical segregation has failed clearly and utterly for civil peace. When  the war of 1842 was concluded, the Ottoman authorities put forward an arrangement known as the “Double Qaimaqamate”, a  qaimaqamate being a semi-autonomous region. One qaimaqamate was reserved for Maronites in the North and one for the Druze  in the South. This did not stop the war from starting again in 1860 between both groups.  What we can say about this hypothesis is that it is certainly part of the answer but does suffice. Poor representation  One very important idea raised by Brenda Seaver is that coexistence is largely a function of the degree of representativeness  within a consociational model of each groups for which it was established. This makes good theoretical sense: in a system which  does not recognize anyone but individual citizens, though one group might be underrepresented as a matter of fact, that there is  no discrimination and any person may influence politics on his own merit can be enough for people to accept it. This hope is  gone once the system officially acknowledges sub-groups (consociational), therefore if we assume that no-one can indefinitely  tolerate inequity, then a consociational system in order to function to its purpose, which is to keep order, must properly represent  each sub-group. The cases here are also an excellent way to observe this in practice. For one thing there is the problem I mentioned in the  previous section about the way district borders do not coincide with sectarian borders, which leads supposed representatives of  Christians to rely on Muslim votes and vice versa, which is another way of saying there are groups whom the establishment does  not represent in the way it says. This would explain why the sectarian homogenization after the war of Lebanese territory would  make peace sturdier, on top of the reason given before, as there is less diversity within constituencies, thus mitigating the  problem. Note also that one of the key changes leading to the war was the arrival of Sunni Palestinians, shifting the  demographics without change in the allocation of power.  Switzerland, on the other hand does not suffer from this flaw. Representation in the National Council (the lower house) is  proportioned to the population of each canton, which as we have mentioned coincides with the proportion of ethnic groups.  However, the most important and distinctive aspect of Swiss politics is that the executive power is also shared. There is no  dignified head of state but a collective body (the Federal Council) where communities are also represented equally. In Lebanon,  the presidency is always in the hands of a Maronite and Sunnis are meant to be placated by the role of Prime Minister, which is  also high, but subordinate. It seems, therefore the difference between Switzerland and Lebanon is that one is more  consociational than the other, on both of Lijphart’s dimensions and that this plays an important role in securing peace.  Representation is thus an important variable in the matter. Civil war as shadow of foreign conflict  There can be no doubt the wars in Lebanon were a consequence of foreign conflict. The one in the 19th century  were, at least in part, a consequence of the diverging loyalties of each group. For instance, prior to 1842,  Maronites received French protection as Catholics when Druze received Ottoman and British protection (due to  their rivalry with France). In the Turko-Egyptian wars of the 1830s, Druze sided with the Turks and Maronites  with the Egyptians. Before the war of 1975, there was a clear conflict between those in Lebanon who supported  pan-Arabism, and therefore the Palestinian fight (mostly Muslims) and those siding with the West both in the  Israeli-Arab and the Cold wars (mostly Christian). It is clear that the attachment of groups within a country to  respective groups outside who are at war has led to war within the country eventually in the case of Lebanon.  Yet we should not make this, like Seaver and Dekmejian argue, into a causal rule: the Swiss example is there to  disprove it. By far the two most important groups in Swiss society and the ethnic French and ethnic Germans and  despite brief hostilities they have not gone to civil war against each other. France and Germany on the other hand,  have been in an on and off conflict for two-hundred years, going to war in the Seven-Years War, the Napoleonic  Wars, the Franco-Prussian War, the First and Second World Wars, and never in that period have they ever fought  as allies. If this tells us anything, it is that groups can cohabit, even if their foreign ethnic counterparts, as it were,  do not.  This does however show one thing: the importance of neutrality. This does indeed separate Lebanon from  Switzerland that despite the National Pact’s prudent provision for Lebanese independence, leaders have often  taken sides in regional conflicts, particularly the Arab-Israeli wars, and invited foreign intervention (e.g. US  invasion of 1958) whereas Switzerland has an old and famous tradition of non-involvement. This also goes to  Lehmbruch’s point that consociatonalism usually does not produce very good foreign policy, thus favouring  consociational regimes who limit their foreign involvement.  In other words, if regional peace is not a condition for civil peace, neutrality to regional conflicts is.  Political structure and responsibility of elites  As far as structural factors, we have already discussed the way the Swiss system does not allow any community to  be too frustrated from underrepresentation  Seaver points out another factor which helps consociationalism to function more effectively: the burden of  responsibility placed on the central authority. According to her the less there is, the more easily communities can  cohabit. Indeed, the Swiss and Lebanese examples are good cases to study. Because of its federal organisation,  Switzerland allows more power to the nation’s sub-groups through their respective cantons.   Lebanon, on the other hand, while it allows for religious courts to rule on purely personal social issues, each  community does not have the authority to legislate and the only legislative elections are for the National  Assembly.  In addition, of the powers that remain in the hands of the central government as in any federal system, foreign  policy is usually an important one. This brings us back to the importance of neutrality in such cases and provides  another reason why it makes a difference, as not only does it prevent national leaders from making sensitive  decisions which could enflame hostilities.  However structural problems must also include the responsibility of elites in upholding the consociational system  which they have inherited from history, as Lehmbruch argues. For example, Swiss leaders have upheld the  tradition of neutrality; in Lebanon, when leaders like Chamoun or Franjieh have failed in this regard, this led to  conflict and when others like Chehab did the opposite, the effect was more peace (the resolution of the 1958  crisis).  The role of national elites and the lightness of their burden is therefore also determinant.  Is diversity the same as division?  Jurg Steiner argues that diversity within a nation does not mean necessarily that this nation is divided politically.  In other words, differences in language or religion does not always make people think they have different  identities when it comes to their public life.  However, this is difficult to believe for two reasons. Firstly, though they have not escalated into a civil war, there  have been fights among ethnic groups, such as in Ticino in 1940 as a consequence of the Second World War. This  has not threatened the unity of the nation, but this is at least proof that both groups are aware of themselves as such  politically.  A second, much more compelling argument is that though Swiss parties exist across ethnic lines, they often also  change their rhetoric depending on the ethnicity of the audience.   The same is true of course in Lebanon. Though parties are usually secular, it is foolish not to see they are always  affiliated more or less explicitly with established sects, so the parties that fought during the war were already  separated politically in peacetime.  This aspect does not constitute an explanatory difference between the unstable Lebanon and stable Switzerland.  Relations among the people  The last variable we might look at, is the rather intuitive notion that civil war can be put if the popular base enjoys  a more positive emotional relation to one another. One measurement we could look at is the ubiquity of inter-  communitarian marriages. Here again we find that while in Lebanon, inter-faith marriage is still controversial,  Swiss multi-ethnic couples, on the other hand, are more common. David Earl Bohn points to a Swiss census which  reveals in 1970 there were 6.7% mixed couples in Germanic cantons, 12% in Italian and 18% in Romandy  (Francophone region).  All the same, this result must not be overstated, as while those figures are high enough to say Swiss inter-marriage  is not exceptional, they are not ubiquitous either. If this is contributory, it is far from decisive.  Conclusions  Of the nine hypotheses we set out to test against the Swiss and Lebanese examples, five are borne out by the  evidence, three have mixed validity and one is invalid.  It does seem religious fault lines tend to produce more conflict than ethnic ones. Civil war is more likely when  sub-groups are not properly represented. Countries with more than two communities come out better than those  where society is split in two. Economic development is also a determinant. Finally, a lot depends on the burden  placed on elites not being too heavy and on those elites honouring their commitment to the power-sharing tradition  which has been placed in trust in their hands.  Physical segregation of communities does seem to mitigate conflict but does not really help get rid of it. The same  is true of the quality of relations among members of the public. The peacefulness of the region does not pre-  determine the chances of civil peace but maintaining neutrality in the face of them does.   The idea that Switzerland is not truly divided is not the answer to why it is so stable.  Of course, those findings are limited to the examples I chose, but this does give important indications of what does  not matter and what does, and how much, for keeping civil coexistence. No doubt it would be useful for future  studies to refine these findings using other examples of divided societies.    Clement Julhia Political Analyst +44 (0)7 392 322 476 Clement Julhia | December 2018