Sleeping with the Devil? Inter-Ethnic Coalition Formation in Eastern Europe's New Democracies or the Transnationalisation of Domestic Contentious Ethnic Politics
36 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 2 Aug 2010
Date Written: 2010
The end of the communist rule in Eastern Europe’s states unleashed the long frozen ethnic cleavage existent in the political arena between national minority and majority groups. The lasting legacy of nationalist competition existent in these multi-ethnic settings has been given an opportunity for political debate and a redefinition of the inter-group relationship in their polities. On the one hand, ethnic parties arose once again and claimed representation for their groups as well as political, social, and economic rights whereas governing majority parties reasserted themselves by playing an initial nationalist card in order to improve their electoral potential in the first elections. In such new unstable democratic environment, the two sides held the occasion to redefine the core rules affecting their status quo while attempting to secure the initial votes in the electoral arena.
One specific aspect of concern in understanding the conflicting dynamics involving majority and minority groups and their repercussions on the stability of a democratic regime has been the mobilization strategies pursued by the political parties. Since the end of the communist rule, political parties representing minority ethnic groups have emerged across Eastern Europe. In the context of a highly heterogeneous environment and since ethnicity has been theorized as a particular historical salient social cleavage it is of no surprise that ethnic groups have become politically active at the outbreak of the totalitarian rule. In light of the presence and mobilization of ethnic groups on domestic arenas in newly established democratic regimes, it became particularly important to understand how their claims and strategies pursued play out in connection with the goals and strategies pursued by majority parties as to scrutinize whether they undermine or on the contrary improve the legitimacy and stability of democratic rule and their place in their societies.
Dwelling on Paul Mitchell and Gary Evans’ study on ethnic coalitionmaking, this project posits that the mere creation of coalitions between minority and majority groups is a step forward in moderating their claims; consequently, such power sharing arrangements may represent a step forward towards easing tensions between two ethnic groups since they intrinsically provide a deliberative setting in which former enemies become partners with the incentive of moderating claims while aiming at compromised solutions from both sides.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation