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A peaceful transition or transfer of power is a concept important to
democratic Democrat, Democrats, or Democratic may refer to: Politics *A proponent of democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government in which people, the people ...

democratic
governments in which the leadership of a government peacefully hands over control of government to a newly-elected leadership. This may be after elections or during the transition from a different kind of political regime, such as the postcommunist period after the
fall of the Soviet Union The dissolution of the Soviet Union, also negatively connoted as rus, Разва́л Сове́тского Сою́за, r=Razvál Sovétskovo Sojúza, ''Ruining of the Soviet Union''. (1988–1991) was the process of internal political, ...
. In scholarship examining
democratization Democratization, or democratisation, is the transition to a more democratic political regime In politics, a regime (also known as "régime", from the original French spelling) is the form of government or the set of rules, cultural or social n ...
and emerging democracies, study of the successful transitions of power is used to understand the transition to
constitutional democracy Liberal democracy, also referred to as Western democracy, is the combination of a liberal Liberal or liberalism may refer to: Politics *a supporter of liberalism, a political and moral philosophy **Liberalism by country *an adherent of a L ...
and the relative stability of that government. A 2014 study concluded that 68 countries had never had a peaceful transition of power due to an election since 1788.


Democratization studies

In scholarship examining
democratization Democratization, or democratisation, is the transition to a more democratic political regime In politics, a regime (also known as "régime", from the original French spelling) is the form of government or the set of rules, cultural or social n ...
and emerging democracies, study of the successful transitions of power is used to understand the transition to
constitutional democracy Liberal democracy, also referred to as Western democracy, is the combination of a liberal Liberal or liberalism may refer to: Politics *a supporter of liberalism, a political and moral philosophy **Liberalism by country *an adherent of a L ...
and the relative stability of that government (
democratic consolidation Democratic consolidation is the process by which a new democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government in which people, the people have the authority to ...
).} A 2014 study by
Adam Przeworski Adam Przeworski (; born May 5, 1940) is a Polish-American professor of political science Political science is the scientific study of politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions In ps ...
of 3,000 elections from 1788 to 2008, published in the journal ''
Comparative Political Studies ''Comparative Political Studies'' is a Peer review, peer-reviewed academic journal. It was established in 1968 by SAGE Publications, who continue to publish it today. The editors are David Samuels (political scientist), David J. Samuels, Universit ...
'' concluded that 68 countries (including Russia and China) had never had a peaceful transition of power between
parties A party is a gathering of people who have been invited by a host A host is a person responsible for guests at an event or for providing hospitality during it. Host may also refer to: Places *Host, Pennsylvania, a village in Berks Cou ...
following an election, making it a "rare and a recent practice." The same study found that once a country has an initial peaceful transfer of power (an "alternation"), it is very likely to keep doing so, making the peaceful transition of power a habit-forming activity. In a stable institutionalized democracy, a peaceful transition is the expected outcome of an election. Peaceful transitions require a number of strong
democratic institution Institutions, according to Samuel P. Huntington Samuel Phillips Huntington (April 18, 1927 – December 24, 2008) was an American political scientist, adviser and academic. He spent more than half a century at Harvard University Ha ...
s and norms to exist, such as the willingness of opposition parties to serve as a
loyal opposition In parliamentary system A parliamentary system or parliamentary democracy is a system of democratic Democrat, Democrats, or Democratic may refer to: *A proponent of democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', fro ...
. Transitions by election put power holders in vulnerable positions, as not only do they risk potential changes in policy and practice and thus their means of power, but they also risk political retribution or retaliation.


21st century

The first peaceful transition of power in a country is often treated as an important stage in a government transition towards democracy such as seen in
elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Direct elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo The Democratic Republic of the Congo ( french: République démocratique du Congo (RDC) ), also known as Congo-Kinshasa, DR Congo, the DRC, the DROC, or the Congo, and formerly Zaire ...
. Successful transitions during tense political moments such as the Velvet Revolution in Armenia in 2018 are interpreted as signs of improved governance within the country, an important milestone in democratization and functioning civil society. Alternately, the lack of peaceful transfers of power, such as in elections in Georgia from 1995 to 2008 in which the only transition between presidents was via the 2003
Rose Revolution The Rose Revolution or Revolution of Roses ( ka, ვარდების რევოლუცია, tr) was a change of power in Georgia (country), Georgia in November 2003. The revolution was brought about by widespread protests over the 2 ...
, may harm the international reputation of the country as a "democracy".


Africa

Since achieving independence from European colonial powers,
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', ...

Africa
has had a mixed record in achieving peaceful transitions of power, with variations among nations. The first peaceful transition of power between civilians in
Nigeria Nigeria (), officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a country in West Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of . The defines Western Africa as the 17 countries of , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and as we ...

Nigeria
took place in 2007, although the outgoing and incoming presidents were of the same party and the preceding election was characterized by widespread irregularities. In 2018,
Liberia Liberia (), officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country on the West Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of Africa. The United Nations defines Western Africa as the 17 countries of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape ...

Liberia
had its first electoral transfer of power since 1944. The first peaceful transition of power in the
Democratic Republic of the Congo The Democratic Republic of the Congo ( french: République démocratique du Congo (RDC) ), also known as Congo-Kinshasa, DR Congo, the DRC, the DROC, or the Congo, and formerly Zaire Zaire (, ), officially the Republic of Zaire (frenc ...

Democratic Republic of the Congo
took place in 2019, with outgoing president
Joseph Kabila Joseph Kabila Kabange ( , ; born 4 June 1971) is a Congolese politician who served as President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo The President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (french: link=no, Président de la République d ...

Joseph Kabila
yielding power to opposition leader
Felix Tshisekedi Felix may refer to: * Felix (name), people and fictional characters with the name Places * Arabia Felix is the ancient Latin name of Yemen * Felix, Spain, a municipality of the province Almería, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, S ...
. The first transition of power from one democratically elected leader to another in
Niger ) , official_languages = French , languages_type = National language A national language is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed languag ...

Niger
took place in 2021, overcoming the nation's history of four coups d'etat.


Europe


Belarus

During the 2020 Belarusian protests that followed the disputed results of the Belarusian presidential election in August 2020, Belarusians created a Coordination Council and a shadow government, called '' National Anti-crisis Management'' (NAM), aiming for a peaceful transfer of power to a freely and fairly elected president. NAM proposed a "constitutional" option for power transfer, in which the presumed presidential election winner,
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya Sviatlana Heorhiyeuna Tsikhanouskaya or Svetlana Georgiyevna Tikhanovskaya (; be, Святлана Георгіеўна Ціханоўская іліпчук; russian: Светлана Георгиевна Тихановская (Пили ...
, would become
Prime Minister A prime minister or a premier is the head of the cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transpa ...
and the powers of the ''de facto'' president
Alexander Lukashenko Alexander Grigoryevich Lukashenko or Alyaksandr Ryhoravich Lukashenka, ; rus, Александр Григорьевич Лукашенко, Aleksandr Grigoryevich Lukashenko, ɐlʲɪkˈsandr ɡrʲɪˈɡorʲjɪvʲɪtɕ lʊkɐˈʂɛnkə (born 3 ...
would be legally transferred to the Prime Minister's position, followed by elections for a new president organised by a newly created electoral commission; and a "legal sovereignty" option, in which Tsikhanouskaya would become President and organise presidential elections within 40–70 days.


Georgia

The transfer of power resulting from the
2012 Georgian parliamentary election Parliamentary elections were held in Georgia (country), Georgia on 1 October 2012. The opposition Georgian Dream coalition of billionaire businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili won a majority of seats. President Mikheil Saakashvili conceded his party's l ...
was considered an important case of peaceful transfer of power in the post-Soviet political development of Georgia, which, since the Soviet period, had earlier gone through changes such as the
Rose Revolution The Rose Revolution or Revolution of Roses ( ka, ვარდების რევოლუცია, tr) was a change of power in Georgia (country), Georgia in November 2003. The revolution was brought about by widespread protests over the 2 ...
in 2003.


North America


United States

A peaceful transition of power has historically been the norm in
United States presidential transition In the United States, a presidential transition is the process during which the president-elect of the United States prepares to take over the administration of the federal government of the United States from the incumbent President of the U ...
s. The transition from
John Adams John Adams (October 30, 1735 – July 4, 1826) was an American statesman, attorney, diplomat A diplomat (from grc, δίπλωμα; romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of ...

John Adams
to
Thomas Jefferson Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, architect, philosopher, and Founding Father The following list of national founding figures is a record, by country, of people who were cr ...

Thomas Jefferson
in 1801 was considered an important milestone for the United States' fledgling democracy. From then until 2020, the losing party in every presidential election "willingly and peacefully" relinquished power to the opposition. The transition is institutionalized through symbolic acts like the presidential inaugurations. Outgoing U.S. presidents traditionally attend the inaugurations of their successors, a symbol of the peaceful passage of power from one administration to the next. ; 2020 presidential election During the 2020 presidential elections, experts described a risk of
democratic backsliding Democratic backsliding, also known as autocratization, democratic decay and de-democratization, is a gradual decline in the quality of democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos ...
in the U.S., as President
Donald Trump Donald John Trump (born June 14, 1946) is an American politician A politician is a person active in party politics A political party is an organization that coordinates candidate A candidate, or nominee, is the prospective reci ...

Donald Trump
publicly refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he lost his election bid. In September 2020, after Trump's statements, the
U.S. Senate The United States Senate is the upper chamber of the United States Congress The United States Congress is the legislature of the federal government of the United States. It is Bicameralism, bicameral, comprising a lower body, the ...
unanimously passed a resolution committing to a peaceful transition of power and opposing any attempt "by the President or any person in power to overturn the will of the people of the United States"; many senators cited the peaceful transition of power's centrality to U.S. democracy. Business leaders also made statements calling for a peaceful transfer. Trump was defeated in the 2020 election by
Joe Biden Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. ( ; born November 20, 1942) is an American politician who is the 46th and current president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of th ...

Joe Biden
in both the popular vote and the
electoral vote An electoral college is a set of Voting, electors who are selected to elect a candidate to particular offices. Often these represent different organizations, political parties or Legal entity, entities, with each organization, political party or e ...
, but refused to accept defeat. Trump falsely claimed election fraud, and engaged in an aggressive and unprecedented, although ultimately unsuccessful, attempt to overturn his election loss. Trump's fellow Republicans had varied reactions to Trump's false election-fraud claims. Trump stated on 15 October 2020 that he would accept a peaceful transfer (after a long period of ambiguous answers to the question) while still falsely alleging fraud and waging a legal battle to attempt to overturn the election results. On 6 January 2021, a pro-Trump mob, inflamed by Trump's false claims, attacked the Capitol in Washington, D.C. in a failed attempt to keep Trump in power. The mob disrupted the counting of the electoral votes by a
joint session of Congress A joint session of the United States Congress is a gathering of members of the two chambers of the Bicameralism, bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States: the United States Senate, Senate and the United States House o ...
for several hours. Five people died (four from medical causes). Senate Majority Leader
Mitch McConnell Addison Mitchell McConnell III (born February 20, 1942) is an American politician and retired attorney serving as Senate Minority Leader The positions of Majority Leader and Minority Leader are held by two United States senators ...

Mitch McConnell
noted that "if this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral." On 7 January 2021, Trump condemned the riots and committed to a transition of power, although after leaving office Trump continued to routinely repeat election lies and defended the riots..


References

{{reflist, refs= {{cite news , last1= Grekowicz , first1= Nikita , language= pl , title= Białoruś ponownie zawrzała po skatowaniu Ramana Bandarenki. Trwają protesty elacja z Mińska, trans-title= Belarus again in shock at the assault on Raman Bandarenka. Protests continue eport from Minsk, date= 15 November 2020 , newspaper= OKO.press , url= https://oko.press/bialorus-ponownie-zawrzala-po-skatowaniu-ramana-bandarenki-trwaja-protesty-relacja-z-minska , access-date= 16 November 2020 , archive-url= https://archive.today/20201116122525/https://oko.press/bialorus-ponownie-zawrzala-po-skatowaniu-ramana-bandarenki-trwaja-protesty-relacja-z-minska/ , archive-date= 16 November 2020 , url-status= live {{cite news , title= Pavel Latushko Announces Establishment Of People's Anti-Crisis Administration , date= 29 October 2020 , newspaper= Belarus Feed , url= https://belarusfeed.com/latushko-peoples-anti-crisis-administration/ , access-date= 16 November 2020 , archive-url= https://archive.today/20201116122555/https://belarusfeed.com/latushko-peoples-anti-crisis-administration/ , archive-date= 16 November 2020 , url-status= live {{cite web , last1=Sadouskaya–Komlach , first1=Maryia , title=An Exiled Belarusian Opposition Faces A Credibility Test , date=6 November 2020 , website=
Center for European Policy Analysis Center or centre may refer to: Mathematics *Center (geometry), the middle of an object * Center (algebra), used in various contexts * Graph center, the set of all vertices of minimum eccentricity * Center (ring theory), related to ring theory ...
, url=https://cepa.org/an-exiled-belarusian-opposition-faces-a-credibility-test , access-date=16 November 2020 , archive-url=https://archive.today/20201116122533/https://cepa.org/an-exiled-belarusian-opposition-faces-a-credibility-test/ , archive-date=16 November 2020 , url-status=live
{{cite web , title= National Anti-Crisis Management: Two power transition options have been developed , website= National Anti-crisis Management , date= 17 November 2020 , url= https://belarus-nau.org/news_en , access-date= 18 November 2020 , archive-url= https://archive.today/20201117191849/https://belarus-nau.org/news_en , archive-date= 17 November 2020 , url-status= live Democracy Elections Articles containing video clips