In This Review

Crafting State-Nations: India and Other Multinational Democracies
Crafting State-Nations: India and Other Multinational Democracies
By Alfred Stepan,Juan J. Linz,Yogendra Yadav
The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011, 336 pp

In this nuanced analysis, three leading political scientists ponder the mystery of how democracies that contain strong, territorially concentrated minorities can manage not just to hold together but also to inculcate strong loyalty to national institutions. Their research demonstrates the vigor of both national and subnational identities in India and other countries with similar political systems, such as Belgium, Canada, and Spain. The institutions that give political leaders the best chance to promote cohesion include asymmetric federalism (granting different powers to different territorial units), the strong protection of individual rights, and parliamentary government. The authors show how other institutional frameworks that give too little autonomy to territorially concentrated subgroups (as in Sri Lanka) or too much (as in Yugoslavia) tend toward secessionism and civil war. And they argue that U.S.-style federalism should be avoided in all “robustly multinational” societies because of its legislative malapportionment, indivisibility of executive power, and plethora of veto points. Since few countries in the world are homogenous nation-states along the lines of France or Japan, these arguments have broad practical relevance.