6.8.6 Accepting the Outcome of Negotiations

Negotiations can have different kinds of outcome:

  • Many, if not most, negotiations result in a compromise being reached. For example it will never be possible for everybody to agree how much tax they pay as individuals because of inherent diversity of opinion on the proper role of government (2.2).  Even if people are not individually satisfied, though, realism will lead to stoic acceptance of the negotiated outcome – if the process was perceived to be fair.
  • A negotiation between a minority group and those in power might result in a concession which doesn’t materially affect most people but which is significant for those requesting it. Explaining the reasoning behind concessions allows governance to evolve and results in inclusiveness.
  • The majority might refuse to make a concession. Someone who wanted to justify wife-beating on the basis of ethnic tradition, for example, might be refused – because this would infringe the woman’s rights in a country which had formally established such rights (6.3.7).  Refusals are more likely to be accepted by people if clear reasons are offered.
  • In some rare circumstances a divergence might be agreed, where it is agreed that different rules could apply to separate groups. Regionalisation is an example of this (
  • Some failures to agree can be resolved by arbitration. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is sometimes chosen as the arbitrator in international disputes (, for example.

Acceptance of any kind of outcome is more likely if the political system is perceived as legitimate (6.3.5).

Rules and procedures alone cannot guarantee the meaningfulness of a negotiation or the acceptability of a political system.  The focus in this chapter has been on having meaningful negotiations, but these will not achieve their purpose if people refuse to accept the outcomes.  In extreme cases, such as the refusal to accept the results of a national election, failed negotiations can lead to attempts to overthrow the entire political system.  The issue of intransigence – a refusal to negotiate or accept the outcome of negotiations – can affect all the dimensions of power, so some of its implications are taken up in the last chapter (9.6).


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