Munich Personal RePEc Archive

The Instability of Power Sharing

Brams, Steven J. and Kilgour, D. Marc (2007): The Instability of Power Sharing.

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Three models are presented in which two players agree to share power in a particular ratio, but either player may subsequently “fire” at the other, as in a duel, to try to eliminate it. The players have positive probabilities of eliminating each other by firing. If neither is successful, the agreement stays in place; if one is successful, that player obtains all the power; if each eliminates the other, both players get nothing. In Model I, the game is played once, and in Model II it is repeated, with discounting of future payoffs. Although there are conditions under which each player would prefer not to shoot, satisfying these conditions for one player precludes satisfying them for the other, so at least one player will always have an incentive to shoot. In anticipation, its rival would prefer to shoot, too, so there will be a race to preempt. In Model III, a damage factor caused by shooting, whether successful or not, is introduced into Model II. This mitigates the incentive to shoot but does not eliminate it entirely. The application of the models to conflicts, especially civil wars, is discussed.

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