How can the salience of ethnicity in Rwandan and Burundian politics be overcome? How can this salience be approached analytically? And why, exactly, is it that it is potentially conflict-prone? This book gives answers to these questions on the basis of what Rwandan and Burundian interviewees expressed as taken for granted and real. In particular, it focuses on different political institutional models, and how they help to overcome an ethnic interpretation of political and social exclusion. Despite the diverging institutional approaches to dealing with ethnic cleavages, the qualitative analysis shows that political and social exclusion, in particular the distribution of power, are interpreted in ethnic terms in both countries. Focusing on notions taken for granted by Rwandan and Burundian interviewees, the book demonstrates, how deeply intertwined ethnicity and politics are in Rwanda and Burundi today.