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Asymmetry in quasi-federal and unitary states

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In his four-fold typology, John McGarry indicates Canada, post-Soviet Russia and Spain as standard examples of 'regional and plurinational federations' (RPNFs). He dedicates most space to this variant, chiefly because of its more successful record. In order to test McGarry's hypothesis, I focus on Spain as an example of a quasi-federal setting and Italy as an instance of unitary state. In agreement with McGarry, I show that asymmetric arrangements are more accommodative, durable and practical, having proved in both cases more flexible and effective in managing and preventing ethnic conflict (see also Coakley, 2003).

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