Ethnic Conflict and Forms of Government: Contemporary Discussions

Ethnic Conflict and Forms of Government:
Contemporary Discussions

Zaznaev O.I.,

Kazan Federal University, Kazan, Russia,

elibrary_id: 199322 |

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2021.01.03

For citation:

Zaznaev O.I. Ethnic Conflict and Forms of Government: Contemporary Discussions. – Polis. Political Studies. 2021. No. 1. P. 25-40. (In Russ.).

The study was supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, project No. 20-011-00102 “The role of form of government in the prevention and resolution of ethnic conflicts: a comparative study”


Ethnic conflicts are a danger to the stability and integrity of a state; to prevent and resolve these, the state changes the form of political-territorial structure, the electoral system, or the form of government. The purpose of the article is to provide a critical overview of current discussions in political science regarding the relationship between ethnic conflicts and forms of government. The author focuses on two key points: the influence of ethnicity on the form of government; and the influence of the form of government on ethnic conflict. The choice of the form of government in a divided society is determined by the conceptual approach: supporters of consociationalism believe that the parliamentary system, due to its collegial nature, is the desired design of power in a multi-ethnic society; supporters of centripetalism and power-dividing approach, on the contrary, advocate for the presidential system, since it provides group consensus as well as checks and balances. One of the poorly studied research problems is to find out what is the role of presidential, parliamentary, and semi-presidential systems in resolving ethnic conflicts. The author claims that the impact of the form of government on ethnicity is ambiguous. There are sufficient arguments in favor of the fact that the presidential system reduces the risk of ethnic conflicts and favors ethnic peace and harmony, but at the same time leads to low chances of political representation for ethnic groups. On the other hand, the parliamentary system creates more opportunities for ethnic representation, but increases the risks of ethnic conflicts. The author demonstrates the advantages and disadvantages of various forms of government in the context of ethnic contradictions. At the same time, he notes that the form of government is not a determinant of ethnic conflicts, but only a condition, since historical, social, and cultural factors have a stronger impact on ethnic conflicts. 

ethnic conflict, form of government, presidentialism, parliamentarism, semi-presidentialism, ethnic representation.


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Content No. 1, 2021

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