Political negotiation – What it is, definition and concept

A political negotiation is a process by which the actors involved, faced with a conflict of interest, seek to obtain the greatest possible benefit to the detriment of the adversary. For this, there is an exchange of information and the commitment to adopt and assign some commitments.

Political negotiation is a process, more or less lasting in time, in which there are two or more groups facing each other over a specific issue. During the process, these groups carry out numerous exchanges of information in order to give the fair and get the most benefit possible. Normally, both parties tend to compromise on something, which involves making compromises that are not to their liking.

There may be a parity in the profits and losses of both forces; or that one comes out with the majority of requirements met. This depends on many factors such as the information you have, the starting point, the cost-benefit ratio or the skill of the negotiators.

Negotiation is a very old process, practically all exchanges are made through negotiation. It was extremely widespread in ancient society, when money did not exist as a bargaining chip and barter was used. The negotiation was constant, since the needs of each person were variable and there were no fixed prices.

Political negotiation has the same essence but applied to politics. It is also very old, since the first human tribes, societies and organizations date back to prehistory. Many of the conflicts that arose between these groups were resolved through negotiation.

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Characteristics of political negotiation

From the definition of political negotiation we can extract its characteristics:

  • More or less durable process over time.
  • You need two or more actors.
  • Seeks to resolve a conflict of interest between the negotiating parties.
  • You need a strategy and negotiation techniques.
  • A person very skilled in the art of negotiation increases the chances of success.
  • An exchange of information is carried out between the parties.
  • The objective is to maximize profits and minimize costs.
  • Both parties usually give in, adopting commitments as consideration.

Stages of political negotiation

The professor and writer Carlos Aldao Zapiola summarizes the stages of political negotiation in five, perfectly applicable to the political field:

  • Decision to negotiate: Negotiation arises from a common conflict, the need to resolve it and the incentives that exist to reach agreements that benefit the parties.
  • Preparation: Every negotiation needs a plan, improvisation is not worth it. In this phase, tasks are carried out such as collecting key information, agreeing on the place, day and time, setting one’s own objectives and anticipating those of the opposite party. As well as an analysis of the potential benefits and possible costs or losses.
  • Execution: It is the negotiation itself. Here comes into play the strategy adopted, the techniques used and the skill of the negotiator. It is very important to pay attention to both verbal and non-verbal language.
  • conclusion: It is about the closing of the negotiation. This can have three results: agreement, it happens if both parties reach a friendly pact; break, if it has been decided to break with the negotiations for whatever reason; and languishing, if motivation has been lost, there is no break in the theory but it does stop negotiating.
  • Materialization of the result: It is the last stage, it assumes that the actors do not break their word and that the agreements adopted are implemented.
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Where is political bargaining used?

As we mentioned earlier, negotiation is an obligatory resource in politics and, therefore, widely used. That is why we find it in many situations.

Next, we are going to list some of them:

  • Investment: The investiture of the Prime Minister in parliamentary regimes is one of the situations where there is more negotiation. The need for it to have a majority of the lower house deputies triggers a long negotiation between the political forces in order to obtain such support. Many of them materialize in investiture agreements, in which the group that supports the president obtains compliance with some demands.
  • General budgets: The period of negotiation of the annual general budgets of any State is one of the most arduous as far as political negotiation is concerned. These must be approved by a majority and each force seeks to greatly influence the budget items that are to its liking. For this reason, support is translated into concessions to the parties that approve them.
  • Legislation: Some relevant legislation is preceded by intense negotiation processes. Consensus is sought, that is, all the demands of an involved group cannot be left out. This occurs in the negotiation of laws such as labor or educational reforms.
  • Terrorism: Some countries have had terrorist gangs within their territory, national gangs. In order to put an end to them, different negotiation periods are entered into. In which, the ceasefire is the fundamental premise. Very relevant cases have been that of the FARC in Colombia, ETA in Spain or the IRA in Ireland.
  • Wars: Wars usually begin with unsuccessful negotiations, in which the attacked country has not acceded to the pressures and conditions established by the aggressor. They also happen on completion. The end of a war is given by a surrender agreement after a negotiation process.
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