The Origins of Holding-Together Federalism: Nepal, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka
Breen, Michael G.
Date of Issue2017
College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Theories on the origin of federalism generally only apply to coming-together federalism. In Asia, some states introduced federalism following decolonization to hold together multiethnic communities, but others centralized and pursued a nation-building agenda. Federalism was not established in Asia again until Nepal’s new constitution of 2015. Why has federalism been resisted and what causes its institutionalization? Using the cases of Nepal, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka, I show that a moderate secession risk, together with a substantive peripheral infrastructural capacity, are necessary conditions for the establishment of holding-together federalism. A high secession risk prevents the formation of an alliance between minority ethnic groups and regime change agents from the dominant ethnic group, which I argue is the key mechanism for federalization in these contexts. A bargain with the core results in quasi-federalism for regime maintenance. Conversely, demands for federalism are too easily repressed when secession risk is low.
Publius: The Journal of Federalism
© 2017 The Author (published by Oxford University Press on behalf of CSF Associates: Publius, Inc.). This is the author created version of a work that has been peer reviewed and accepted for publication in Publius: The Journal of Federalism, published by Oxford University Press on behalf of CSF Associates: Publius, Inc. It incorporates referee’s comments but changes resulting from the publishing process, such as copyediting, structural formatting, may not be reflected in this document. The published version is available at: [http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/publius/pjx027].