Publication Date

Spring 2000


The resurgence of nationalism taking place throughout Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union raises important questions with respect to ethnic political mobilization, particularly with respect to the potential for ethnic separatism. Moreover, the region provides scholars an excellent setting in which to study the political effects of constitutional choices. This article, utilizing a rationalist approach which emphasizes the cost-benefit calculus of ethnic groups, seeks to analyze the impact of one such constitutional choice, the electoral system. The competing theories regarding the determinants of ethnic separatism are also examined. We find that the most important factor in explaining ethnic separatism is the basic geo-political arrangement of the group, as measured through spatial distribution.


Political Science