When Have Dyadic Federations Succeeded and When Have They Failed? A Comparative Analysis of Bipolar Federalism Around the World

Christoph Niessen, Min Reuchamps, Dejan Stjepanović, Augustin Habra

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

Abstract

In this chapter, we study under which conditions dyadic federations—a genus of multinational federalism composed of two major communities—have ‘succeeded’ (i.e. survived) and under which they have ‘failed’ (i.e. broken apart). Through a fuzzy-set Qualitative Comparative Analysis of all democratic dyadic federations, past and present, we show that dyadic federations can succeed if geographical factors such as the territorial dispersion of the dominant groups play in its favour and when institutional arrangements (i.e. a proportional electoral system or a national party system) ensure fair political representation for both communities or prevent polities from being conceived in exclusively sub-national terms. In the absence of territorial dispersion, other institutional arrangements such as executive inclusiveness and an equal economic distribution between groups appear to be crucial in preventing the breakup. In general, dyadic federations that survive tend to do so for many years. By contrast, our analysis shows that a bipolar federal project is likely to fail in the absence of stabilising institutional arrangements (i.e. electoral proportionality and a national party system) and, more particularly, when economic resources are unequally distributed between communities and when these communities are clearly territorially separable. The duration of the union is, again, of importance because the dyadic federations that failed did so at their very beginning. Our results inform the literature on federalism, national diversity and democracy by showing that federalism can be a successful institutional arrangement for bipolar polities when its survival as a state is desired or without a viable alternative.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFederalism and National Diversity in the 21st Century
EditorsAlain-G Gagnon, Arjun Tremblay
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Chapter3
Pages41-72
Number of pages30
Edition1
ISBN (Electronic)9783030384197
ISBN (Print)9783030384180
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

NameFederalism and Internal Conflicts
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan

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Niessen, C., Reuchamps, M., Stjepanović, D., & Habra, A. (2020). When Have Dyadic Federations Succeeded and When Have They Failed? A Comparative Analysis of Bipolar Federalism Around the World. In A-G. Gagnon, & A. Tremblay (Eds.), Federalism and National Diversity in the 21st Century (1 ed., pp. 41-72). (Federalism and Internal Conflicts). Palgrave Macmillan.