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Propagating a Human Identity for Autonomy, Integration and Interdependence
Angela Piñeyro De Hoyos, ACP565
Angie Piñeyro De Hoyos ACP565 Moser Spring2009 Pa pe r 2 P age |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 in ethnically 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 identity to surpass what Snyder and Wilkinson term elite-manipulated nationalism. Additionally, as suggested by Horowitz¶s centripetalist views and Moser¶s research, maximizing the autonomy and integration of ethnic minorities in conjunction with increasing the political interdependence of elites on minorities, we can avoid institutionalizing ethnic cleavages and help young democracies to grow into the multicultural identities that will induce future coexistence. Despite ethnocentric tendencies, it is unlikely that elites in every ethnically divided polity are 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 an innate and eternal mortal combat as the µancient hatreds¶ theory suggests. Rather, ethnic identity is a tool, and a choice, and while there are some identities one can not choose, we are all dealt a hand from which we can play any, or many cards at a given time. Snyder and Wilkinson both expound on the idea that elites use these ethnic identities as well as nationalism to direct electoral outcomes. According to Wilkinson ³«ethnic riots, far from being relatively spontaneous eruptions of anger, are often planned by politicians for a clear electoral purpose.´ (p.1). This µelite persuasion¶ view shows how democratization may promote ethnic violence if elites are
Angie Piñeyro De Hoyos ACP565 Moser Spring2009 Pa pe r 2 P age |3
willing to invoke nationalism to gain or maintain power in high-stakes elections; making young democracies susceptible to ethnic violence. In turn, masses use ethnic identity and social cleavages (whether ethnic or economic) to align their votes. In terms of specific examples, Wilkinson cites the situation in southern India where the polity is saliently divided between Hindus and Muslims in the southern states. He finds that nationalistic temptation is universal, yet astoundingly high and vulnerable to elite manipulation at local levels where anti-minority events held before highly competitive elections are designed to spark violent minority counter-mobilization. The resulting conflict rallies antiminority sentiment behind the nationalist party. Thus on a local level, democratic competition increases violence. Yet the paradox remains, for democracy increases violence at the local level and reduces it at the state level. According to Wilkinson ³«democratic states protect minorities when it is in their 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 harvested and directed towards a united identity that surpasses elite manipulated nationalism, the social momentum 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 David L. Horowitz, power sharing is the only way to build electoral systems that will support stable democratic regimes in ethnically divided societies. Despite their agreement on the fact that institutions and identities matter in order to transcend ethnic divisions, and on the fact that ethnic
Angie Piñeyro De Hoyos ACP565 Moser Spring2009 Pa pe r 2 P age |4
parties struggle only for their own interests and not for universal appeal, they propose two competing views on power-sharing. According to Lijphart and what has been labeled the µconsociational¶ approach, the best way to engineer new democracies involves a large executive coalition which includes the main factions. He also proposes granting factional autonomy while promoting a high degree of proportionality, especially through proportionally representative (or PR) electoral systems. In fact, in his critique of Horwitz¶s approach, known as the µcentripetal¶ approach Lijphart says ³It is hard to imagine that, in the long run, the two minorities would be satisfied with this kind of moderate«representation, instead of representation by members of their own communities.´ (p.98). This shows Lijphart¶s unstated subscription to the out-dated µancient-hatred¶ theory which pits certain ethnic groups against one another until the end of time. In addition to this discrediting belief, there are key flaws in his logic. Lijphart claims that ³«the beauty of [proportional representation] is that in addition to producing proportionality and minority representation, it treats all groups²ethnic, racial, religious, or even noncommunal groups²in a completely equal and evenhanded fashion.´(p.100). Yet, ethnic division begets ethnic division. Lijphart¶s precise proportional representation clearly indicates that every minute division, even µnoncommunal¶ ones will not only be propagated but institutionalized by his consociational suggestions. Implementing this advice would create a constitutional base for ethnic discrimination, a bloody burden for future generations. Instead I propose reducing the weight of ethnicity. While this may seem like a lofty and idealistic goal in places where deep ethnic divisions manifest themselves through sectarian violence, it is the unbounded opposite of an µancient hatreds¶ perspective; for it maintains that
Angie Piñeyro De Hoyos ACP565 Moser Spring2009 Pa pe r 2 P age |5
the current divisions are not permanent and we must constantly struggle to erase them and shape a brighter, more unified future. As I mentioned above, Horowitz is a main proponent of the µcentripetal¶ school of thought which suggests that any executive coalition be limited to moderate parties, non-ethnic based decentralization of power, majoritarian electoral systems that reward moderation, and a majority dependent on a minority constituency. While acknowledging the virtues of proportionality, Horowitz sees the flaw in Lijphart¶s consociationalism wherein PR does not guarantee more cooperation in the legislature than what is seen in society; it will likely mirror any and all societal divides. His goal then becomes figuring out how to shape elections that produce moderation (shared interests, reconciliation, overcoming divides). According to Horowitz if politicians must seek out votes outside of their same ethnic group to win this will increase intergroup cooperation and moderation. The best way to encourage this moderation is by encouraging the adoption of preferential voting systems. These preferential voting systems lead to the election of a Condorcet winner, which in ethnically divided societies is often moderate because such a system rewards candidates appealing to a majority as acceptable, not as most popular. He suggests specifically, alternative vote systems and the Coombs rule, which are slightly different tools to produce the Condorcet winner. As opposed to casting one single choice, voters rank candidates by preference. The main point of this is that by considering second and lower selections, Horowitz asserts that they are better suited to ensure that the Condorcet winner gets the most votes, therefore is most acceptable. Last of all, according to Horowitz ³If preferential systems«are intended to reflect the full array of
voter preferences, they may also shape those preferences, and they may shape the behavior of the parties competing under them«Such preferential systems thus encourage the formation of preelectoral coalitions, and those coalitions in turn depend upon the ability or parties to compromise their differences. Hence the conciliatory thrust of systems
Angie Piñeyro De Hoyos ACP565 Moser Spring2009 Pa pe r 2 P age |6
of this sort under the conditions specified.´ (pp.123-124). This shows that just as with any institution,
electoral systems can channel and eventually shape preferences. By limiting electoral success to moderates we allow this moderation to permeate society as a whole. Yet as with all theories, when applied to the real world it doesn¶t apply at all times in all places. In his research on post-communist democracies, Robert Moser shows that electoral engineering can sometimes have unexpected results. He concludes that PR has conditional benefits and that ethnic representation slides on a scale between minority assimilation and ethnic mobilization for, ³the election of ethnic minorities is contingent upon the electoral mobilization of coethnic voters.´ (p.276). When candidates require the ethnic vote to win they have incentives to reduce discrimination and violence (as also shown by Wilkinson) and when minorities are assimilated, all bets are off, for they are no longer seen as outsiders. He concludes thus that assimilated minorities are unaffected by PR or other systems, while PR benefits large, geographically dispersed groups, and small as well as large geographically concentrated groups. Moser¶s findings that PR does not always impact minority representation validate my claim that the creation of a greater identity while assimilating minorities yet granting them autonomy is a superior path to ethnic coexistence. Leaders can channel ethnicity into violence or a shared identity, and the fragility of new democracies makes them susceptible. This elite manipulation of nationalist tendencies often explodes into years of bloodshed, which as I showed through the research of Snyder and Wilkinson, reaps the most immediate electoral benefits. As epitomized by Horowitz¶s centripetal theories, ³Deliberate choice, not cultural affinity, ought to be the basis of decisions«´(p.120) Promoting integration, and self-determination (what Moser calls autonomy) is our hope that the only identity we will institutionalize is a human one.
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