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From Maastricht to Brexit by Richard Bellamy and Dario Castiglione

Divided We Stand: Ethnic Identities as Drivers of Political Mobilization in Post-Conflict Bosnia, Kosovo, and Macedonia

Artak Galyan
Central European University
Artak Galyan
Central European University
Carsten Q. Schneider
Central European University
Roland Schmidt
Central European University
Olimpija Hristova
Central European University

In the aftermath of the devastating civil wars, Bosnia, Macedonia, and Kosovo have undergone extensive institutional engineering in order to empower ethnic communities and provide them with veto rights against the possible usurpation of power by their opponents. All three countries are characterized by a sophisticated structure of power-sharing institutions which have provided for extensive representation of every significant ethnic groups in the decision making in all the branches and all the levels of government.
However, the countries’ institutional configurations provide for a considerable variation as to their effect on the persistence of cleavages and continuing (mis)use of ethnic identity as the primary driver for political mobilization. An important stream of literature (e.g Norris 2008, Jarstad 2008, Roeder and Rothchild 2005) has emphasized the perils of the entrenchment of ethnicity for the prevalence of peace and the quality of democracy in divided societies. Following this literature, the present paper compares the persistence of ethnic identities as the driving force of political mobilization in post-conflict Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia. Approaching the persistence of ethnic identities through citizens’ political behavior, this paper investigates the success of ethnic parties in contrast to multi-ethnic parties at general and municipal elections.
Our hunch is that the success of ethnic parties is facilitated by interrelated factors including institutional (dis)incentives and the presence and extent of IDP voting. With regard to local level elections our working hypothesis is that the persistence of ethnic voting is driven by the dynamics of inter- and intra-group rivalry. Particularly, ethnic identities are used as the driver of political mobilization in multiethnic municipalities where parties face ethnic contenders. In contrast, the political salience of ethnicity is expected to be lower in monoethnic municipalities as the electoral discourse is likely to shift from issues of identity towards public goods provision.
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