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Ethnicity Based Democratic Constitutional Structures: the Cases of Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia and Kosovo

Author: Avdi Smajljaj

Affiliation: Assist. Prof., Department of Political Science, IIUM, Kuala Lumpur 

Organization/Publisher: Journal of Balkan and Black Sea Studies

Date/Place: June 2020, Turkey

Type of Literature: Journal Article 

Number of Pages: 30


Keywords: Ethnic constitutional settings, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Kosovo


This paper addresses post-conflict ethnic reconciliation motives, political, and constitutional settlements along with ethnic divisions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, and Kosovo. It highlights the challenges of governing a multi-ethnic society in post-conflict cases, with a particular emphasis on the importance of the international community as guarantors for the survival of the political settings. The author argues that consociationalism is most functional in those multi-ethnic societies where killings had not occurred within the ethnic lines. Hence, due to the recent past ethnic slaughtering, consociationalism had not delivered the expected outcome in these three western Balkan countries. The author promotes elements of centripetalism as a helpful recipe for reconciliation among ethnicities. His critiques of consociationalism and post-conflict settlement based on ethnic territorial divisions are mainly focused on the levels of inter-ethnic marriages and multiculturalism. Dr. Smajljaj claims that ethnic territorial administration units have minimized the inter-ethnic relations and interdependencies. Considering the sociopolitical situation in these three western Balkan countries, the author makes a very bold argument contrary to the fundamentals of consociationalism by saying that consociationalism might lead to the tyranny of the minority over the majority. For these countries, he describes the relationship between governability and ethnic entities as the “ceteris paribus” issue (all other things being equal). As long as ethnic relationships are calculated upon a “zero-sum” game, there is no viability of ethnic reconciliation.  

By: Abdullah Jurat, CIGA Senior Research Associate



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