Referendums as a Political Party Gamble: A Critical Analysis of the Kurdish Referendum for Independence

Dylan O'Driscoll, Bahar Baser

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This article brings the case of the Kurdish referendum for independence into the wider literature on independence referendums. It examines the decision to hold an independence referendum and explores the pre-referendum conditions and the post-referendum consequences. The article argues that the referendum in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq was held due to internal political competition and growing rebellion from the population against the poor economic and political situation rather than the ripeness of the timing for independence. Theoretically, this article adds a new dimension to the scholarship on independence referendums, as it demonstrates that the purposes of independence referendums can go beyond the question put to the population - such as consolidating popular support by connecting to the populations’ nationalist desires, despite independence not being a realistic prospect. Finally, it brings further support for previous findings of the importance of international support for independence referendums.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)(In-press)
JournalInternational Political Science Review
Early online date29 Nov 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Nov 2019

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  • Independence Referendums
  • Kurds
  • Iraq
  • Unrecognised states
  • Nationalism
  • Secession

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