Political Status and Democracy in Multi-ethnic and Multi-racial States
Ethnic Strife and Democracy
Kogila Moodley
Professor, Dept. of Educational Studies, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

As many failed multinational states are strewn with progressive constitutions, the limits to regulate, let alone solve, ethnic strife by legal means need to be recognized. Western democracies, based on the rights of atomized citizens, still underestimate the collective appeal of ethno-nationalism and harbor numerous fallacies about the causes and remedies of ethnic strife. A psychoanalytic explanation provides the most insights into universal ethno-centrism.

Historically and politically, two types of immigrant minorities can be distinguished from two types of national minorities. Each context requires different policy responses. Multi-culturalism fits immigrant societies, while power-sharing arrangements, federalism and even regulated secession respond best to the demands for self-determination by national minorities. The lessons from negotiating inter-ethnic accords are assessed with comparative evidence globally, but particularly Quebec and South Africa. How democracy can be consolidated in divided societies with ethnic voting, how controversial elite compromises can be legitimized and how embittered memories of past injustices are treated in Truth Commissions is critically reviewed.