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

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    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
    Number of pages30
    ISBN (Electronic)9783030384197
    ISBN (Print)9783030384180
    Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Publication series

    NameFederalism and Internal Conflicts
    PublisherPalgrave Macmillan


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