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Sustaining Successful Democracy through Ethnic Division: Propagating a Human Identity For Autonomy, Integration and Interdependence

Sustaining Successful Democracy through Ethnic Division: Propagating a Human Identity For Autonomy, Integration and Interdependence

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Published by: Angie Piñeyro De Hoyos on Oct 19, 2010
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10/19/2010

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SustainingSuccessfulDemocracyThroughEthnicDivision
Propagating a HumanIdentity forAutonomy,Integration andInterdependence
Angela Piñeyro De Hoyos,ACP565
 
 ACP565 Moser Spring2009Paper 2 Page|
2
Reconciling Ethnic Violence to Stabilize New Democracies
After six years of American occupation and countless more of sectarian violence in Iraq,many around the world have begun to doubt the viability of ethnically divided states. In fact,democratization scholars such as Snyder and Wilkinson believe that democracy can
 promote
 ethnic conflict. Though the prospects of establishing and maintaining functioning democracies inethnically divided societies around the world may look grim, I argue that democracy can indeed be successful regardless of the depth of ethnic cleavages by harvesting a united national identityto surpass what Snyder and Wilkinson term elite-manipulated nationalism. Additionally, assuggested by Horowitz¶s centripetalist views and Moser¶s research, maximizing the autonomyand integration of ethnic minorities in conjunction with increasing the political interdependenceof elites on minorities, we can avoid institutionalizing ethnic cleavages and help youngdemocracies to grow into the multicultural identities that will induce future coexistence.
D
espite ethnocentric tendencies, it is unlikely that elites in every ethnically divided polityare genuinely racists or separatists, or even zealous nationalists. Because of time and politics,certain ethnicities are pitted against each other. While this is difficult to reverse, it is not aninnate and eternal mortal combat as the µancient hatreds¶ theory suggests. Rather, ethnic identityis a tool, and a choice, and while there are some identities one can not choose, we are all dealt ahand from which we can play any, or many cards at a given time. Snyder and Wilkinson bothexpound on the idea that elites use these ethnic identities as well as nationalism to direct electoraloutcomes. According to Wilkinson ³«ethnic riots, far from being relatively spontaneouseruptions of anger, are often planned by politicians for a clear electoral purpose.´ (p.1). Thisµelite persuasion¶ view shows how democratization may promote ethnic violence if elites are
 
 ACP565 Moser Spring2009Paper 2 Page|
3
 
willing to invoke nationalism to gain or maintain power in high-stakes elections; making youngdemocracies susceptible to ethnic violence.In turn, masses use ethnic identity and social cleavages (whether ethnic or economic) toalign their votes. In terms of specific examples, Wilkinson cites the situation in southern Indiawhere the polity is saliently divided between Hindus and Muslims in the southern states. Hefinds that nationalistic temptation is universal, yet astoundingly high and vulnerable to elitemanipulation at local levels where anti-minority events held before highly competitive electionsare designed to spark violent minority counter-mobilization. The resulting conflict rallies anti-minority sentiment behind the nationalist party. Thus on a local level, democratic competitionincreases violence.Yet the paradox remains, for democracy increases violence at the local level and reducesit at the state level. According to Wilkinson ³«democratic states protect minorities when it is intheir governments¶ electoral interest to do so.´(p.6). This electoral interest, he says, ³«is predicted perfectly by their degrees of party competition and minority support«´ (p.8). Thus,elite motivation is the driving force behind selective ethnic identification and the inciting or  preventing of ethnic violence. If this mass desire for communal identification can be harvestedand directed towards a united identity that surpasses elite manipulated nationalism, the socialmomentum for multicultural integration will invoke stability.The second piece of this puzzle then becomes reflecting this multicultural integration in political institutions, specifically in electoral design. According to both Arend Lijphart, and
D
avid L. Horowitz, power sharing is the only way to build electoral systems that will supportstable democratic regimes in ethnically divided societies.
D
espite their agreement on the fact thatinstitutions and identities matter in order to transcend ethnic divisions, and on the fact that ethnic

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