Rebuilding institutional legitimacy in post-conflict societies - A case study of Nepal

Fisk, Kylie and Cherney, Adrian (2015) Rebuilding institutional legitimacy in post-conflict societies - A case study of Nepal St Lucia, QLD Australia: The University of Queensland

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Author Fisk, Kylie
Cherney, Adrian
Title of report Rebuilding institutional legitimacy in post-conflict societies - A case study of Nepal
Publication date 2015-03-27
Open Access Status File (Author Post-print)
Publisher The University of Queensland
Place of publication St Lucia, QLD Australia
Total pages 180
Language eng
Abstract/Summary Legitimacy is central to citizens’ perception and acceptance of power and authority. As such, rebuilding institutional legitimacy is essential for stability in post-conflict societies. In this project we explore the factors that lead citizens to view their government as legitimate following the reconstruction of central government institutions after a conflict. We draw on a broad range of theories to investigate post-conflict legitimacy in Nepal. This research utilized Nepal as a case study. Nepal transitioned into a secular democratic republic in 2008, following ten years of civil war, and has subsequently been engaged in rebuilding central governance institutions. This project involved a pilot study (N=300, conducted in July and August 2012); two Waves of nationwide cross-sectional quantitative fieldwork (each N=1500 - Wave 1 conducted between August 2012 and October 2012, and Wave 2 conducted between September 2013 and November 2013); and a third wave of longitudinal panel data (N= 1500, 944-participants longitudinal panel from Wave 2 and 556 new cross-sectional participants - conducted between July 2014 and September 2014). Our data analysis focused on three main themes. The first is concerned with examining the relationship between perceived levels of post-conflict procedural justice and institutional trust and performance in Nepal. The basic relationships these variables display with central government legitimacy are examined. The second theme examines social identification and influence in Nepal, both at a superordinate (national) level and subordinate (caste/ethnic) level. Relationships between identification, trust, influence, and legitimacy are explored. The third theme regards post-conflict democratic elections, including the effect of elections on perceived procedural fairness and legitimacy, and the legitimacy of democratic elections themselves. Additionally, the effect of transitional justice on institutional legitimacy is explored. Results reveal relatively low levels of procedural justice, government performance, and government legitimacy in Nepal. Bivariate correlations suggest a strong relationship between procedural justice and legitimacy, and weaker relationships between instrumental variables and legitimacy. Levels of social identification were found to be extremely high in Nepal, though no difference is observed between levels of caste/ethnic identification and national identification. It is found that local influence is perceived to be greater than foreign group influence, though both display a positive association with legitimacy. However, voice—the perception that citizens have an input into processes that affect them—is found to be strongly associated with legitimacy. Two specific elements of procedural justice relevant to the post-conflict context—election legitimacy and transitional justice—are measured and their relationship with government legitimacy is observed. Election legitimacy was found to be relatively high in Nepal (unusually so for post-conflict elections), and was positively associated with government legitimacy. Transitional justice was perceived to be very low, with most citizens perceiving that human rights violations were committed during the war in Nepal, and most believing that the perpetrators had not yet been held accountable. Transitional justice was found to be positively associated with legitimacy, meaning that the less transitional justice that was perceived, the less legitimate citizens perceived the central government to be. This report comprises four sections. The first section provides a brief literature review of existing research on institutional legitimacy and the variables of interest in this study, including instrumental and procedural sources of legitimacy, ‘local ownership’ theories of legitimacy, and an introduction to election legitimacy and transitional justice. A brief outline of the conflict and reconstruction in Nepal is also provided in this section. The second section details the methodology of each Wave of fieldwork in Nepal. Selected results and discussion from each Wave of fieldwork are organized by theme and the phase of data collection. Implications and conclusions are presented in the fourth section. Project ‘codebooks’, encompassing descriptive information of all demographic and survey items, are attached in appendices.
Additional Notes Cite as: Fisk, K. and Cherney A. (2015) Research Report: Rebuilding institutional legitimacy in post-conflict society - A case study of Nepal. Prepared for the U.S. Air Force Asian Office of Aerospace Research and Development and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Grant No FA2386-12-1-4052; AOARD 124052. The University of Queensland, Australia.

Document type: Research Report
Collection: School of Social Science Publications
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Created: Thu, 12 May 2016, 09:29:46 EST by Dr Adrian Cherney on behalf of School of Social Science