Working Paper #40 available
This paper explores the uneasy relationship between implementing a secessionist agenda and building democracies in Eurasia’s de facto states. Unlike most studies of secessionist conflict in the former Soviet region, it opens up the ‘black box’ of domestic politics in one such state to illustrate the contested nature of secessionist policies within the de facto states. The dynamics of domestic politics are explored through detailed analysis of the patterns of political representation. The examination of representational outcomes provides a means for systematic analysis of strategies of political elite recruitment employed by non-democratic or hybrid regimes. It is argued here that maintaining public support for the secessionist cause in the Transnistrian case has required systematic suppression of the norms of democratic competition. Political actors with policy agendas alternative to those advocated by the secessionist leadership were consistently denied a fair chance to contest political office. The findings question the tendency to take for granted societal endorsement of the secessionist policies advocated by the elites of de facto states, and also point to the necessity to examine critically the validity of elites’ claims of having a genuine democratic mandate for pursuing such policies.