Ethnofederalism and the Management of Ethnic Conflict: Assessing the Alternatives

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The use of ethnofederalism as an institutional means of managing ethnic problems remains controversial. For critics, it is an imprudent institutional choice that hardens and deepens ethnic divisions and all but guarantees secession and state collapse. To dismiss ethnofederalism as an imprudent choice, however, is to imply that alternative institutions exist that are both feasible to implement and that would plausibly succeed where ethnofederalism fails. To date, critics have struggled to make a convincing case on either point. This article examines empirically the viability of institutional alternatives to ethnofederalism. Based on data drawn from post 1945 and using a "same-system" comparative design, the results indicate that where ethnofederal systems have failed, they have generally failed in contexts where no institutional alternatives could plausibly have succeeded, and that in the majority of cases, ethnofederalism has succeeded where other institutional forms have demonstrably failed.



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