chapter  10
10 Pages



Democratization, at a minimum, entails elections and a change in institutional structures. Institutional structures, beginning with constitutions, parliamentary representation, and electoral systems are, of course, very important. Although first elections may be crucial in destabilizing relations between ethnic minorities and the state, electoral cycles are also crucial (Posner 2007). Beyond these static considerations, however, legacies from authoritarian pasts are not easily erased. It is not often that democrats can begin with an entirely new slate of institutional configurations, and these limits were apparent in many of the cases throughout this book. Choices of institutional configurations are constrained by institutional practices of the previous authoritarian regime. The institutional legacies from the pre-transition period are extensively discussed by Haklai in Chapter 2. Most conspicuously, exclusive national boundaries of many ethnically defined democratic states (ethnic democracies) that emerged in the 1990s, and which privilege dominant majorities, are an inheritance from the authoritarian era. In some cases, such as Bulgaria, Romania, Thailand, and Turkey, the national identity embodied by the state was simply passed on from the pre-democracy era and was not subject to significant contestation during the transition period. The institutional infrastructure of the state was relatively well established and majority ownership of the state consolidated, providing little opportunity for extensive renegotiation of the inherited national identity embodied in state institutions. In other cases, democratization came about following the disintegration of larger communist polities, such as the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia. Here, too, the pre-transition infrastructure served to mark the national boundaries, as distinct from the citizenry as a whole, around a core nation. During the communist period, republics and other administrative units were established for particular culturally defined groups within the Soviet Union and the Yugoslavian and Czechoslovakian federations. Once these federations collapsed, the ethnoculturally defined republics turned into independent ethnically defined states, inheriting the boundaries of exclusion from their predecessors. However, because these new states were not yet well established, majority political elites implemented policy measures aimed at solidifying the superior status of the titular groups. As a result, minorities were marginalized in the immediate aftermath of such transformations. There are only few, new departures that allow for completely new constitutional or institutional designs that are tailored to meet new demands emerging in new democratic environments. South Africa constitutes one of the few exceptions in this respect, as does Iraq and to some extent Spain (Horowitz 1991; Choudhry 2008). Even in these cases, constitutional commissions or assemblies are pressured to reach agreement on new foundational principles and law. Although they can be porous to political pressure and lobbying, only a few allow for broad consultation. In any case, the relative strength of political parties and influential lobby groups on the margins of the constitutional process largely

determines the main substantive issues that are subsequently addressed. In these situations, unless a country is emerging once again from violent conflict, the demands of ethnic minorities are rarely high on the agenda. Since many ethnic minorities are too small numerically to be influential, they rely on more powerful allies to represent them in these negotiations. As Toubeau notes in Chapter 4, agenda-setting is crucial, particularly at times of constitutional negotiations. If minority claims can be raised and discussed in constitutional assemblies or commissions, they run stronger chances of being included in the final document. In this respect, Toubeau’s contrast between Spain and Czechoslovakia is particularly illuminating. With the rejection of their Francoist past in Spain, statewide political parties were more open to regionalist and nationalist demands especially from the Basque country, Catalonia, and Galicia, precisely because they were faced with deep grievances spreading back to the civil war. Yet, they were still imbued with a basic belief in a unitary state for Spain, and loyalty to the Spanish nation. This duality was reflected in the kind of constitutional compromise that was made in favor of autonomy. Yet, it emerged against the backdrop of a previously centralized and strongly unitary state, which produced an electoral system and put into place institutional structures that encouraged statewide political parties and majority ascent for constitutional change. Regionalist or nationalist parties could not block, therefore, the constitutional process. By contrast, Czechoslovakia retained some of the federalist structures from its authoritarian past. It became the basic template for new constitutional negotiations, which was also reflected in its electoral system. Under its new structures, regional parties were strong, and were even provided with veto power in the constitutional process, which is one of the rare examples of such powers for regionally based parties during transitional moments. It is not surprising, therefore, that the outcome differed markedly from the Spanish case and produced secession. Nevertheless, it clearly shows the point that drafting new institutional configurations does not occur in a void. New democracies can only rarely break radically from past institutions. Furthermore, initial elections often seal new power configurations that highly determine the ability to respond to minority grievances. First elections, although not necessarily destabilizing, create power configurations that sometimes prevent negotiated solutions. Toubeau’s chapter shows that the initial distribution of party control in Parliament had vast implications for the contrasting outcomes of Spain and Czechoslovakia. In the former, only statewide parties gained significant presence in Parliament. Although they had regional strength among ethnic minorities, they remained committed to state integrity while open to compromises. In Czechoslovakia, regionalist parties won, therefore significantly restricting the ability to create cross-national compromises during constitutional negotiations. Electoral cycles, in turn, can have diametrically opposed outcomes. As Lynch and Anderson point out in Chapter 5, Kenya turned into a case of increasing ethnic violence produced, in part, by democratic processes. Political elites in the

Mount Elgon region, where much of the violence of the past few years occurred, had strong incentives to mobilize along ethnic lines in order to exclude groups that had migrated and made claims to local land. Land interests, therefore, dictated a politics of exclusion that created “migrants” and pitted them against claims from “sons-of-the-soil” groups. With each electoral cycle, the tension became higher until violence was unleashed in the last few years A similar problem, if mainly a threat, is present in many bipolar states. Where a country is divided into two main ethnic blocs, often with one large minority alongside a majority, elections run the risk of fueling ethnic outbidding, as Shoup contends in Chapter 8. Certainly electoral cycles in Sri Lanka produced major Sinhalese parties that increasingly ratcheted up Sinhalese nationalism and exclusionary policies toward the Tamils in their competitive bids to win electoral support. But in Malaysia, as Shoup demonstrates, government redistribution of resources in favor of the Malay majority has been an effective strategy to disarm potential ethnocentric outbidding by rival Malay political forces. Conversely, electoral cycles in many other locations appear to socialize constituents to democratic moderation. Although it would be a stretch to argue that each election produced more moderation in Turkey, nevertheless the competition between secularists and Islamists did give birth to the Justice Party, the AKP, which significantly transformed the electoral landscape. Following an electoral logic, and seeking support to maintain its majority, the AKP extended more concessions to the Kurds in order to secure their electoral alliance. This strategy has allowed them to remain in power since 2002. Beyond Turkey, in some cases the impact of electoral competition went even further as political parties representing national minorities joined coalition governments; for example, the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romanian (UDMR) and the Turkish-dominated Movement for Rights and Freedom (MRF ) in Bulgaria. Elections therefore can become tools of moderation and compromise where votes from ethnic minorities create significant gains. Where such constituencies are too small, such as Sri Lanka and the Philippines, where the Muslims of the south constitute only a few percentage of total voters, national parties are much more likely to outbid each other in appealing to majority concerns, rather than seek support among ethnic minorities. Institutional configurations can also seal certain power relations between ethnic groups that can have a strong impact on conflict. The long-standing debate between consociationalists and centripetalists certainly set the parameters of this debate (Horowitz 1985; McGarry and O’Leary 1993; Lijphart 1977, 2008). Ethnic party bans, in many respects, are an integrationist strategy that is consistent with a centripetalist approach. By restricting parties from organizing along ethnic lines, at least in theory states attempt to impose integrationist parties. This strategy, however, may well be limited in its effectiveness, as Bogaards, Elischer, and Becher claim (Chapter 3). A more positive emphasis on “incentives” rather than “restrictions,” they contend, may yield better results. Based on an examination of cases across Africa, Bogaards and colleagues argue that “positive” ethnic party bans appear to be more successful at creating cross-ethnic

alliances than “negative” bans based on restrictions. Some common practices include requirements of party registration in a minimum number of regions, party office in several regions, and party leadership from diverse ethnic backgrounds. Of these, they note that the latter two are most effective. Measures using party nationalization also yield similar results, but suggest that positive ethnic party bans work effectively in the presence of certain contextual factors that include the type of electoral system, the degree of centralization of government, the degree of ethnic heterogeneity, as well as the geographic distribution of ethnic groups. Some contexts are likely to make certain types of incentives more effective. Overall, they confirm a tentative set of findings, however, on the usefulness of these mechanisms. By implementing “positive” ethnic party bans, state leaders send positive signals of requirements of national presence rather than restrictive approaches that could be conceived as repressive and intolerant. More comparative research will be useful beyond African cases and also to specify contextual factors where these types of institutional strategies may be most effective. The case of Turkey may well reinforce these findings or suggest, instead, some of the negative effects of party bans altogether. As Romano shows in Chapter 9, Turkey pursued a whole host of integrationist and assimilationist strategies for decades after its initial introduction in the 1940s of procedural democratic practices. Article 57 of the 1961 Constitution constituted a negative party ban, as it prevented the formation of parties that could threaten the “state’s territorial and national integrity.” The ban, of course, was mainly in the interpretation of the clause. Judges prevented the formation of ethnic and regionalist parties, as they were deemed to threaten such integrity. The 1982 Constitution went further in its Article 81 by more explicitly banning political parties from “creating minorities,” which included provisions that no minorities were recognized along ethnic, religious, linguistic, or regional lines. The effects of this ban did not eliminate ethnic ties, as the later strong mobilization of the Kurds has shown. While Kurds may have been initially subdued after democratization, as Romano shows, they nevertheless mobilized strongly in subsequent decades and even violently. Turkey perhaps shows most clearly the limitations, or even negative consequences that ethnic party bans may have. Of course, they were also implemented alongside a whole host of repressive and assimilationist measures, which again begs the question of the differing contexts where ethnic party bans might be more effective. Used in more positive ways, and without other accompanying measures to deny recognition or some accommodation to minorities, they might yield better results.