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The Double-Edged Sword of Ethnofederalism: Ukraine and the USSR in Comparative Perspective

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Ethnofederalism has been blamed for secessionism in the USSR, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia, yet it is also touted as an important way of preventing ethnic conflict. Indeed, ethnofederalism is a double-edged sword, potentially generating both centrifugal and centripetal dynamics. Which way it ultimately cuts depends not only on context and institutions, but also on the undertheorized factor of leadership strategy. A focused process-tracing comparison of four time periods in the most challenging case of Ukraine, each corresponding to a different Soviet leadership strategy, confirms the theory and challenges the common wisdom that secessionism was inexorably rising in the USSR during the year of its disintegration.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2008

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  • Comparative Politics is an international journal that publishes scholarly articles devoted to the comparative analysis of political institutions and behavior. It was founded in 1968 to further the development of comparative political theory and the application of comparative theoretical analysis to the empirical investigation of political issues. Comparative Politics communicates new ideas and research findings to social scientists, scholars, and students, and is valued by experts in research organizations, foundations, and consulates throughout the world.
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