Decentralization: Fueling the Fire or Dampening the Flames of Intrastate Conflict?

Dawn Brancati

in Peace by Design

Published in print December 2008 | ISBN: 9780199549009
Published online January 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191720307 | DOI:
 Decentralization: Fueling the Fire or Dampening the Flames of Intrastate Conflict?

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This chapter elaborates on the argument regarding how the effect of decentralization on intrastate conflict hinges on regional parties. Brancati argues that the negative effects typically associated with decentralization are not an effect of decentralization directly, but that of regional parties. Specifically, it argues that regional parties create regional identities, advocate legislation that is harmful to other regions and regional minorities, and also mobilize groups to engage in ethnic conflict and secessionism and support extremist organizations that engage in these activities. The chapter also establishes in this chapter a number of conditions under which regional parties are likely to stimulate conflict and secessionism, and statewide parties are likely to reduce it. The chapter further argues that decentralization, in turn, increases the strength of regional parties depending on particular features of decentralization (i.e. the proportion of legislative seats a region possesses, the number of regional legislatures in a country, the upper house election procedures, the sequencing of national and regional elections). The chapter also offers a theoretical discussion in this chapter of the origins of decentralization and regional parties, arguing that neither is simply a product of the underlying ethnolinguistic, religious, and territorial differences in a country, but have an independent effect on these differences, and on conflict and secessionism.

Keywords: decentralization; regional parties; regional identities; ethnic conflict; secessionism; violence; civil war; intrastate conflict

Chapter.  10881 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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