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Political engineering of parties and party systems

  • Anthropology
  • Engineering
  • Political Science


In this scoping paper for a study of parties and party systems in ethnically divided societies, Ben Reilly looks at the relationship between parties, ethnicity and democracy. The paper presents a survey of four different institutional and political strategies that have been used around the world to encourage the development of cross-regional or multi-ethnic parties and party systems. Dr Reilly notes that recent initiatives for political engineering have occurred in the developing world and have favoured a centripetal rather than consociational approach. As many of these countries are new democracies with ethnically plural societies, they face the difficult task of consolidating democracy at the same time as managing the politicisation of ethnicity.

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