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Averting Secession: Engineering Durable Ethnic Autonomy Arrangements for Iraq

Sat, September 2, 4:00 to 5:30pm, Hilton Union Square, Golden Gate 3


Ethnic autonomy arrangements (EAAs) have been shown to diminish secessionist tendencies in divided societies, but their empirical record of success is mixed. We theorize that, after controlling for level of democracy, EAAs that are structured to create and best sustain an equilibrium in bargaining relations between center and periphery have the highest probability of survival. We test the theory using a two tier system of equations. The top tier equation uses data drawn from the universe of post-1945 EAAs to estimate the effects of variation in EAA structure on the probability of the system’s survival. The bottom tier equations estimate variation in levels of democracy based on a vector of historical, religious and socio-economic covariates, using a dataset comprising the universe of post-1945 democracies. Combined, these two tiers allow for the estimation of the secession-propensity of EAAs based on variation in internal structure and most known drivers of democracy. The results indicate that at high levels of democracy, the internal structure of an EAA has little effect on survival prospects, but that internal structure has greater impact as levels of democracy diminish. We apply these findings to the case of Iraq to illustrate how an EAA can be institutionally engineered to maximize its probability of survival, even at low levels of democracy.