Decentralization: a double-edged sword? : A comparative case study on decentralization and its influence on ethnic conflict and secessionism
Sammanfattning: This study evaluates the influence of decentralization on ethnic conflict and secessionism. There is little agreement in the existing literature, as several scholars argue for regional autonomy as an effective method of conflict resolution while other scholars argue that decentralization exacerbates ethnic conflict by reinforcing ethnic identities and promoting ethnic mobilization. By adopting a theoretical framework that distinguishes itself from previous research, an argument is proposed that while regional autonomy concessions provide a direct short-term effect, the indirect consequences of decentralization risk reinforcing ethnic identities and encourage ethnic mobilization long-term. Thus, a combination of territorial and governmental power sharing is necessary for decentralization to be successful in reducing ethnic conflict and secessionism. By adopting a combined structural and group perspective on decentralization, the argument is implemented in a within-case comparison of Spain as well as a between-case comparison with Bosnia and Herzegovina. Main findings suggest that regional autonomy does not provide short-term reduction, rather, a combination of territorial and governmental power sharing with full inclusion into executive power is required for decentralization to successfully reduce ethnic conflict and secessionism. Additional insights on national identity as a compelling variable with potential theoretical inference were also gained.
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