31 May 2013
Democratic Transition
and Sub-National Challenges
Sub-national identities are politically relevant in many Asian and African countries, irrespective to their political system. The vote tends to be guided by clanic, ethnic, religious or regional identities, and political parties are organized along primordial loyalties. Identity politics is invoked to justify ingrained power relations or, for those groups who are discriminated against and excluded from economic and political power, to further their interests. Unequal power relations and state-sponsored discrimination result in many instances in ethnic and religious strife, which is endemic today in some countries, including those that have recently undergone, or are undergoing, a transition to democracy or to a more substantial democracy. In fact, several empirical studies stress that democratic political competition in ethnically diverse countries often leads to instability and violence. In post-Taliban Afghanistan ethnic identity has remained a contentious issue dividing the population and
feeding into the anti-government insurgency, and the post-conflict reconstruction has fallen prey to pre-existing tribal and ethnic dynamics. In Kenya, where presidential elections were held in March 2013, two politicians considered by the international community responsible for the worse ethnic violence in the country’s history won the elections. In Georgia, after the Rose Revolution in 2003, religious minorities have felt more secure, and legal reforms in 2011 have further protected them, but religion remains politically contentious, and manipulation of the religious
sentiments for political purposes has not totally abated. In Palestine, clanic identity affects the discourse of governance, public administration and economic development and, above all, state-building, fuelling internal political divisions. In Libya, tribal institutions are playing an important role in providing order in the post-Qaddafi’s political vacuum and could be absorbed into a democratic framework. In Afghanistan and Pakistan tribal and ethnic identity has merged in Pashtun areas with radical movements and undergone a process of Islamization.
Fragmentation and Democratic Transformations in Kenya: Ethnicity as an Outcome Rather Than a Cause (1992-2013)
Fifty years after its independence, ethnic mobilisation still plays a key role in the politics of contemporary Kenya. Today, it is not...
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and Sub-National Tensions
in Afghanistan and Pakistan
Although there is an ample literature on post-conflict reconstruction in ethnically diverse countries, it mostly refers to state building – that is, the construction of official institutions – rather than nation-building – the crafting of an...
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The Role of Tribal Dynamics
in the Libyan Future
The current political situation in Libya is characterized by three competing elements: Islam, democracy, and rentier state. Looking these three elements on an empirical basis, reasonable doubts arise about their possible coexistence. These elements...
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Politics of Tribe and Kinship: Political Parties and Informal Institutions in Palestine
Theories in social sciences have always been built either on the experience of a society or on the transformation of one social structure or system to another. These theories are at once descriptive or representative of societal...
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Georgian Secularism Between Modernization and Democratization: Minority Issues and Social Cohesion
The last census that covered the corpus of Georgian citizens, including their religious beliefs and ethno-linguistic affiliation, dates back to 2002. In April 2012 the...
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Elisa Giunchi
Associate Senior Research Fellow ISPI, presents the study.
Research Team
Elisa Giunchi (Head of Research), Abdalhadi Alijla, Marilisa Lorusso, Andrea Rigon, Arturo Varvelli.
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