Independence Referendums and Nationalist Rhetoric: The Kurdistan Region of Iraq

Dylan O'Driscoll, Bahar Baser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)
211 Downloads (Pure)


Using the case study of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) and the 2017 independence referendum, this article examines the nexus between independence referendums, nationalism, and political power. It argues that the referendum in the KRI was held due to internal political competition and growing rebellion from the population against the poor economic performance and political situation rather than because the time was right for independence referendum. Focusing on the poor political and financial dynamics, as well as the lack of regional and international support for Kurdish independence the article argues that independence was not a realistic goal and was rather used as a distraction amid internal turmoil. The example of the referendum in the
KRI poses questions about the democratic credibility of such referenda, as the population were voting for an unachievable result and the referendum itself became a tool of internal political competition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2016-2034
Number of pages19
JournalThird World Quarterly
Issue number11
Early online date28 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Third World Quarterly on 28/05/2019 available online:

Copyright © and Moral Rights are retained by the author(s) and/ or other copyright owners. A copy can be downloaded for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or charge. This item cannot be reproduced or quoted extensively from without first obtaining permission in writing from the copyright holder(s). The content must not be changed in any way or sold commercially in any format or medium without the formal permission of the copyright holders.


  • Iraq
  • Kurds
  • conflict and security
  • governance
  • nationalism
  • referendums

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development

Institute themes

  • Governance, Leadership and Trust
  • Peace and Conflict


Dive into the research topics of 'Independence Referendums and Nationalist Rhetoric: The Kurdistan Region of Iraq'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this