Previous research has largely ignored the implications of the special conditions of a post-war society for the functioning of democracy. I argue that democracy promotion after inter-group conflict may exacerbate the risk of violent conflict. The increased propensity for violence derives from three sources: democracy itself, the transition process, and the design and implementation of assistance to this process. To evaluate democratisation efforts, I develop an assessment instrument with indicators of institutional as well as normative aspects of democratisation. In addition, the paper summarises an analysis of the developments pertaining to democratisation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Macedonia. My main conclusion on democratisation efforts in the Balkans, is that local ownership is vital for long-term democratisation. After inter-group conflict, where people are organized along ethnic lines, there is no short cut to escape nationalist politics. International intervention to remove nationalists, run the risk of increasing support for extremism and ethnochauvinism. For this reason, democracy promoters are well advised to embrace the principle that the voters, not international actors, should hold the politicians accountable. This is true also for the prospects of long-term democratisation in Iraq. So far, several opportunities to ensure a legitimate process towards democracy have been missed in the course of U.S. led intervention. However, legitimacy can be ensured, by allowing the Iraqis themselves to work out the rules for political cooperation and to craft their future constitution through a public dialogue.