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Foreign Interventions and Secessionist Movements: The Democratic Factor

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 August 2005

Louis Bélanger
Université Laval
Érick Duchesne
Université Laval
Jonathan Paquin
McGill University


Abstract. This article explores the impact of political regime type on the decision of third states to support secessionist movements abroad. It suggests that democracies share political values, which lead them to oppose their mutual secessionist claims, while autocracies are not bound by this normative consideration. The statistical analysis supports the effect of the democratic factor: democracies rarely support secessionist groups emerging from democratic states. Moreover, it shows that there is no autocratic counterpart to this argument. This research also casts some serious doubts on the ability of conventional explanations—namely vulnerability and ethnic affinities—to explain external support to secessionist movements.

Résumé. Cet article analyse l'impact du type de régime politique sur la décision des États tiers d'appuyer des mouvements sécessionnistes à l'étranger. L'étude soutient que les démocraties partagent des valeurs politiques communes qui les mènent à s'opposer aux mouvements indépendantistes qui se manifestent parmi elles, alors que les régimes autocratiques ne sont pas liés par cette considération normative. L'analyse statistique valide l'effet du facteur démocratique : les démocraties appuient rarement les groupes sécessionnistes qui émergent au sein d'autres États démocratiques. Les données démontrent également qu'il n'y a pas d'équivalent autocratique faisant écho au facteur démocratique. L'étude indique en outre que les thèses courantes de la vulnérabilité et du lien ethnique expliquent mal l'appui des États tiers aux groupes sécessionnistes.

Research Article
© 2005 Cambridge University Press

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