Political order and incomplete secession
: the process of escalation and the exercise of authority in the aftermath of secessionist war

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


In the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union has seen the disintegration of institutions and the collapse of Soviet political order, as internal conflicts broke out on the territory of the USSR. In their aftermath, the former institutional structures of the Soviet state have been transformed alongside the war-time division line to give rise to de-facto states, that have challenged the territorial integrity of the two sovereign states. The consolidation of the de-facto states of Transnistria, South Ossetia and Abkhazia has been given a wider scholarly attention than the relationship maintained between centre and periphery over the past two decades. This relationship can be best understood through the concept of political order that this thesis proposes. Political order evolves under specific conditions of incomplete secession that assume the absence of UN recognition for the de-facto state, the persistence of parallel authority held by separatists in the aftermath of war and their consolidation and not least the constant dynamic interaction between metropolitan and de-facto state. The concept of political order provides an appropriate lens towards the study of variation within the relationship between metropolitan and de-facto states over time by identifying three different levels of antagonism between the parties on the continuum from cooperation to conflict. These are mutual accommodation, chronic stalemate and acute confrontation and represent different forms of interaction towards the exercise of authority in the aftermath of war. A process of escalation occurs between these three levels of intensity and it assumes that several steps towards the breakdown of negotiation and the pursuit of escalation are undertaken by both entities. Thus, to explain the process of escalation in political order in contexts of incomplete secession, the cases of state contestation by Transnistria, South Ossetia and Abkhazia will offer a better understanding of the role played by elections in stabilizing or de-stabilizing certain types of interaction between metropolitan and de-facto states in the aftermath of war. This thesis argues that elections represent an important factor in shaping political order under conditions of incomplete secession by bringing to power nationalist leaders that favour escalation and by providing information resources for the decisions to implement and legitimize hard-line politics.
Date of Award1 Oct 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorOisin Tansey (Supervisor) & Natasha Kuhrt (Supervisor)

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