Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Tony's Summary of Caspersen Article

"Good Fences Make Good Neighbors? A Comparison of Conflict-Regulation Strategies in Postwar Bosnia" by Nina Caspersen
This article is a study of the two models of conflict resolution strategies as applied to institutional solutions to moderating ethnic tensions in post-war Bosnia. These models are two different ways of ameliorating ethnic conflicts but deal with the issue of identity and ethnicity in two very different ways. The Dayton Agreements contained elements of both of these theories and the author, Caspersen, looks closely at how effective both were, if at all.
The first is the theory of consociational democracy by Lijphart and it relies on the cooperation of ethnic elites in institutions. These institutions are designed in a way that explicitly acknowledges ethnic differences. There are four models of institutions that work best for this consociational set up according to Lijphart. These are a power sharing government, minority veto power, proportional electoral system, and ethnic autonomy. Lijphart's model relies on a “self-negating prophecy” which is that ethnic leadership has to realize the dangers posed by ethnic differences and choose to cooperate instead of destroy each other. Lijphart's model regards identity as a permanent feature, whereas the following model by Horowitz does not.
The opposing theory of cooperation between electorally motivated politicians by Horowitz posits that consociational democracy does not specify how the institutional arrangements motivate elite cooperation. According to this theory, identities and ethnicities are not permanent. In order to achieve institutional moderation and multi-ethnicity, Horowitz says that an electoral system in which candidates would be elected by getting votes from outside their ethnic group is the best. This would help candidates moderate themselves because it's a form of coalition building, like that seen in minority governments in parliaments the world over. Caspersen thinks that this theory leaves out group protection because there is no need for any sort of specific accommodation. Accommodation is unnecessary because to recognize anyone as deserving of any is counter-intuitive to this theory. Horowitz more desires to put aside the ethnic divide and create greater cooperation through inter-ethnic integrations.
One interesting aspect of this article was the examination of the ethnic makeup of municipalities and whether or not more heterogeneous populations fostered or moderated extremism or nationalism. The common held belief is that municipalities with a heterogeneous population will have less instances of extremism and nationalism because the population is forced to coexist and moderates extremist views due to interaction and understand of others. However, the data set showed that in certain situations where divisions are deep due to ethnic conflict there is a greater amount of extremism. The behavior is linked to a greater desire to protect group status and a fear of domination by other groups. This generally leads to election of extremist parties and this is also demonstrated in the data set.
Caspersen shows that both of these approaches fall short of fostering moderation in the various institutions in the Balkans. Whether it is through the electoral system, legislature, or constitution, neither approach was fully moderating the ethnic tensions.
Liberals do not loose hope, however, as the article shows that over the long term, heterogeneity might lead to more moderation. The author actually suggests to mix consociational and integrative institutional measures and to change the balance of that mix as time goes on to dampen the shortcomings of both approaches in regards to promoting moderation.
Overall a strong analysis of the various aspects of the Dayton Agreements as applied to the two democracy theories on ethnic cooperation. I would be interested to see what Caspersen sees now as the institutions have been aged three more years since the publication of her article.