A peaceful transition or transfer of power is a concept important to 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, or the elections in Libya following the fall of Muammar Gaddafi. In scholarship examining democratization and emerging democracies, study of the successful transitions of power is used to understand the transition to constitutional democracy 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 and emerging democracies, study of the successful transitions of power is used to understand the transition to constitutional democracy 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. Peaceful transitions require a number of strong democratic institutions to pursue such as willingness from opposition parties to serve as a loyal opposition. Transitions by election place power holders in vulnerable positions as not only do they risk potential changes in policy and practice and thus their means of power, but also for political retribution or retaliation. Especially in new democracies, there may be a need to create new institutions to facilitate a peaceful transition. After the Libyan Revolution, the National Transitional Council provided a 10-month period that facilitated the "first peaceful transition of power in Libya's modern history". In a stable institutionalized democracy, a peaceful transition is the expected outcome of an election and a 2014 analysis found that once a country begins peaceful transfers of power, it is very likely to keep doing so.

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. 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, may harm the international reputation of the country as a "democracy".


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, would become Prime Minister and the powers of the ''de facto'' president Alexander Lukashenko 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.


The transfer of power resulting from the 2012 Georgian parliamentary election 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 in 2003.

United States

A peaceful transition of power has historically been the norm in United States presidential transitions. It is institutionalized through symbolic acts like the United States presidential inauguration. During the 2020 elections, a number of experts described a risk of democratic backsliding. Comments made by U.S. President Donald Trump during his presidential campaign of that year raised doubts about the role of a peaceful transition, while other elected officials, such as members of the Senate, put out public statements in support of a peaceful transition of power, seeing the process as a key part of U.S. democracy. In addition, some Republicans pushed back on Trump's unproven narrative of election fraud. The Financial Times reported that business leaders, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable, made statements calling for a peaceful transfer. After weeks of questioning, Trump stated on 15 November 2020 that he would accept a peaceful transfer, while at the same time, without giving evidence, he questioned the validity of the results of the 2020 United States presidential election. On Wednesday 6 January 2021, during certification of the electoral college vote, hundreds of Trump's supporters stormed the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., pushing past metal barricades and security guards. Some news outlets labeled the act as an attempted coup d'état by Trump. During the unrest, which forced the Senate to recess, four rioters were killed (three by natural causes), as well as one Capitol Police officer. Then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell noted that "if this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral."


{{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 |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 Category:Democracy Category:Elections Category:Articles containing video clips