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

Dylan O'Driscoll, Bahar Baser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
232 Downloads (Pure)


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 party politics 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 population’s 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)652-666
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Political Science Review
Issue number5
Early online date29 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

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  • Independence Referendums
  • Kurds
  • Iraq
  • Unrecognised states
  • Nationalism
  • Secession
  • secession
  • nationalism
  • Independence referendums
  • unrecognised states

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • Governance, Leadership and Trust
  • Peace and Conflict


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