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This article seeks to conceptualize political pacts as a transitional strategy that has been employed by a number of countries seeking to move toward democratic regimes or outcomes. Political pacts, which are formed in an effort to manage large-scale and often violent societal conflict, have certain common characteristics, among them the key role played by elites in negotiating and designing these agreements. After examining the concept of political pacts, the defining characteristics of pacts, and the relation they bear to societal conflict, we focus on the latter factor, differentiating between cases of domestic societal conflict that have an identity/personalistic dimension to them and those that do not. In particular, we seek to determine the types of factors that may facilitate or complicate the successful use of pacts as a transitional strategy for creating and maintaining democratic regimes.