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Are there any studies which would conclude whether stronger geographic representation in voting systems is a significant contributor to strong regional identities in a country?

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  • They have this type of thing in the US and it advantages one party because its voters are more spread out. Commented Oct 6, 2020 at 12:35
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    @NumberFile, probably a correct observation (even if gerrymandering is more complex) but it wasn't the question which was asked.
    – o.m.
    Commented Oct 6, 2020 at 15:29
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    Can you name a country that does not use geographic representation in the election of its national parliament, is considered at least partially democratic and large enough for regional identity to make sense (e.g. Luxembourg probably won’t count)?
    – Jan
    Commented Oct 7, 2020 at 10:16
  • @Jan Good remark. I have modified my question to stress the fact I'm interested in the role of geographic representation in general. So the study I'm looking for would probably rank countries on a spectrum from solely proportional systems like that of Slovakia and Netherlands through Germany to the UK and the USA. The more problematic aspect would be deciphering the cause and the effect.
    – Probably
    Commented Oct 7, 2020 at 13:46
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    I agree with @ohwilleke. A related field is the study of ethnic representation, as in many parts of the world ethnicities (especially in polarized pol. systems) cluster together. There are studies that examine the effect of changes in the voting system, e.g. the introduction of minority quotas or the rise of ethnic parties in case studies. So the question remains how generalizable that is. There is also a quantitative dataset growup.ethz.ch but I am not aware of anyone who used it for this topic yet
    – chris
    Commented Dec 9, 2021 at 13:57

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Independent India's democratic and political history does suggest this. India's democratic experiments, and the indian federal system of governance makes a great case study for this question as its political history clearly shows the phenomena of regionalism taking roots over time. While Indian democracy was inspired by the west, it was quite unique in the sense that India became a democracy with universal suffrage. Thus, perhaps it isn't surprising that regionalism was inevitable in India, despite the presence of a strong national party.

Regionalism is the expression of a common sense of identity and purpose by people within a specific geographical region, united by its unique language, culture etc.

  • In a positive sense, it encourages people to develop a sense of brotherhood and oneness which seeks to protect the interests of a particular region and promotes the welfare and development of the state and its people.
  • In the negative sense, it implies excessive attachment to one’s region which is a great threat to the unity and integrity of the country.

In the Indian context generally, the term 'regionalism' has been used in the negative sense.

Source: Regionalism In India

political changes due to regionalism

Regionalism has remained perhaps the most potent force in Indian politics ever since independence (1947), if not before. It has remained the main basis of many regional political parties which have governed many states since the late 1960s. Three clear patterns can be identified in the post-independence phases of accommodation of regional identity through statehood.

First, in the 1950s and 1960s, intense (ethnic) mass mobilisation, often taking on a violent character, was the main force behind the state’s response with an institutional package for statehood. Andhra Pradesh in India’s south showed the way. The fast unto death in 1952 of the legendary (Telugu) leader Potti Sriramulu for a state for the Telegu-speakers out of the composite Madras Presidency moved an otherwise reluctant Jawaharlal Nehru, a top nationalist leader and it was followed by State reorganisation commission under Fazal Ali paving way for State Reorganization Act, 1956.

Second, in the 1970s and 1980s, the main focus of reorganization was India’s North-east. The basis of reorganization was tribal insurgency for separation and statehood. The main institutional response of the Union government was the North-eastern States Reorganisation Act, 1971 which upgraded the Union Territories of Manipur and Tripura, and the Sub-State of Meghalaya to full statehood, and Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh (then Tribal Districts) to Union Territories. The latter became states in 1986. Goa (based on Konkani language (8th Schedule)), which became a state in 1987, was the sole exception.

Third, the movements for the three new states (created in 2000)—Chhattisgarh out of Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand out of Bihar and Uttaranchal out of Uttar Pradesh— were long-drawn but became vigorous in the 1990s. And the most recent one, we can see with the division of Andhra Pradesh, giving a separate Telangana, which started in 1950s.

Source: Regionalism – Its Dimensions, Meaning and Issues

A lot of political study in India has been done on this. Suggested reading:

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  • This seems to point to the opposite phenomenon - a tension in regional identities leading to a administrative reorganization, but thanks.
    – Probably
    Commented Dec 16, 2022 at 15:16
  • @Probably I guess that argument could be made too. But it also supports your theory - universal suffrage in India allowed these regional identities to find a political voice and they used democracy to organise themselves against national parties. For a long time, only 1 national party was dominant in India. But over time, regional parties started gaining and for 2 - 3 decades, India was even governed by a coalition of these regional + national parties. Now, again 1 national party dominates, but it still struggles to politically compete with other regional parties in many states.
    – sfxedit
    Commented Dec 17, 2022 at 10:38

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