Compete, Concede or Fight? Official Recognition of Ethnicity, Redistribution and Democratic Stability
59 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 17 Sep 2010
Date Written: August 27, 2010
How do policies that imply official recognition of ethnic identities affect democratic stability in the presence of redistributive conflict? In order to answer this question, I develop a game-theoretic model of two-dimensional electoral competition in which voters have divergent preferences over policies of recognition and income redistribution, while candidates have the option of resorting to violence and subverting democracy if they are dissatisfied with the election results. First, I find that democracies at medium income levels remain stable with or without policies of recognition and do not deviate from the status quo policy on this issue due to redistributive consequences of such a deviation for the poor group supporting the status quo. Second, when income distribution is more equal in democracies that block recognition, ethnic minorities have stronger incentives to initiate a fight on behalf of their recognition demands. Third, ethnically heterogenous coalitions may redistribute more than homogenous coalitions if deviations to break a coalition lead to inter-group fighting.
Keywords: ethnicity, redistribution, democratic stability
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