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Ethnic and Regional Politics after the Asian Economic Crisis: A Comparison of Malaysia and South Korea

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This article explores the impact of the Asian economic crisis on the Malay-Chinese and Kyongsang-Cholla regional political cleavage structures in Malaysia and Korea respectively. The weakening of previously intractable cleavages and the rise of cross-cutting cleavages have the potential to contribute to democratic consolidation, by enhancing democratic uncertainty or 'organised uncertainty'. The analysis of post-crisis election results shows that Malaysia's traditional ethnic linkages between political elites and voters became more flexible after the crisis and created a strong cross-cutting dimension to the political cleavage structure. In contrast South Korea's regional cleavages remained fundamentally undisturbed and may even have been reinforced by the crisis, notwithstanding evidence of defections from regionally dominant parties.
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Keywords: ethnicity; political cleavages; regionalism

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2003-03-01

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