Uncertainty, Cleavages and Ethnic Coalitions
Journal of Politics
University of Chicago Press
Reason for embargo
Currently under an indefinite embargo pending publication by [publisher]. 12-month embargo to be applied on publication
Why do ethnically diverse elites share power in government coalitions? I argue that uncertainty about their societal support makes ethnic leaders frequently form oversized coalitions when their group does not represent an overwhelming majority. This uncertainty stems from cross-cutting cleavage configurations, which enable coethnics to hold membership in multiple groups, and opens up the possibility of future defection to the opposition along shared identity markers. In response, elites prefer coalitions that internalize cross-cutting cleavages as they restrict defections to coalition partners and survive longer. To test these hypotheses, I collected new data on linguistic, religious, and racial intra-group divisions. Using conditional choice models on formation opportunities in 134 ethnically divided societies between 1946 and 2009 I find that, independent of institutional rules, ethnic elites frequently opt for oversized multiethnic coalitions that share as many ethnic markers as possible. These coalitions survive longer than more heterogeneous pacts.
Financial support from the Swiss National Science Foundation’s NCCR Democracy program is gratefully acknowledged.
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