Buffers or Barriers? Reservations and Rebel Parties

Thursday, November 2, 2023
12:00 PM - 1:15 PM

Virtual to Public. Only those with an active Stanford ID with access to Encina E008 in Encina Hall may attend in person.

Maria Curiel seminar

Peace settlements ending civil wars often pursue political solutions that require violent actors to transition to political parties and engage with politics peacefully. Some provide reserved seats, quotas, or guaranteed cabinet positions to safeguard these electoral transitions. What are the consequences of safeguards on rebel party grassroots? Scholarship on political affirmative action generally concludes that reservations are beneficial. However, safeguards may hinder the consolidation of rebel parties by generating counterproductive incentives, demobilizing the party base. I study the case of the former FARC-EP party Comunes, who were granted 10 legislative seats in the 2016 peace agreement. I implement a priming experiment with this crucial but difficult to reach population to assess the consequences of this provision. On average, primed participants reported less interest in a range of party-building activities. However, heterogeneity suggests these safeguards may come at the cost of civilian grassroots specifically, further concentrating rebel party activism among ex-combatants.


María Ignacia Curiel is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) at Stanford University. She is an empirical scholar using experimental, observational, and qualitative data to study violent conflict and elections, peacebuilding, and representation.

Her recent work analyzes political parties with rebel origins and the conditions that shape their commitment to electoral competition. This work draws both from an in-depth empirical study of Comunes, a Colombian political party formed by the former FARC guerrilla, and from the study of broad patterns in rebel party behaviors across contexts. She received her PhD in Political Science from the Department of Politics at New York University.

She has previously conducted research for the United Nations University Center for Policy Research on excombatant reintegration into civilian life, the Inter-American Development Bank on the evolution of Venezuela’s energy infrastructure, and a Caracas-based organization on state-sponsored killings and police militarization. She was born in Caracas, Venezuela, and lived in New York from 2011-2023.

Virtual to Public. Only those with an active Stanford ID with access to Encina E008 in Encina Hall may attend in person.