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Journal Article

Dispersing Authority or Deepening Divisions? Decentralization and Ethnoregional Party Success

David Lublin
The Journal of Politics
Vol. 74, No. 4 (Oct., 2012), pp. 1079-1093
DOI: 10.1017/s0022381612000667
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1017/s0022381612000667
Page Count: 15
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Dispersing Authority or Deepening Divisions? Decentralization and Ethnoregional Party Success
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Abstract

Political scientists have fiercely debated the impact of decentralization on ethnic conflict; some see it as a panacea, while others contend that it sows the seeds of its own failure by stimulating ethnic divisions via ethnoregional parties. Using multiple methods—historical analysis, quantitative case studies, and multivariate models of the share of votes won by ethnoregional parties in 71 democracies—this article demonstrates that ethnoregional parties derive no benefit from decentralization in nonethnically decentralized countries. Even in ethnically decentralized countries, much ethnoregional party success is explained by the continuation of parties that originally pressed for decentralization. Any impact of decentralization on ethnoregional parties can be minimized through the careful construction of institutions to enhance regional autonomy but not statewide influence. Consequently, institutional designers should retain decentralization as an option when crafting political institutions even in countries with ethnic divisions.

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