The European Parliament Elections as an Arena for Ethnic Minority Representation
37 Pages Posted: 24 Aug 2011
Date Written: August 24, 2011
The political representation of minorities is regarded as a key indicator of the level of democracy in any contemporary political system, and, in the case of ethnic minorities, of their rights and integration in society. In post-communist Eastern Europe, external factors, and particularly the European Union integration process, have played an important role in establishing the framework of minority policy, including their integration and representation. This paper examines the behavior of ethnic parties and their electorates in four new EU member states at the 2009 European Parliament elections. The paper builds on earlier arguments that the EU-level political process influences the behavior of parties in post-communist Europe to a greater extent than that of the parties and party systems in Western Europe (Lewis 2008, Ladrech 2008); and that this trend is particularly strong in the case of ethnic parties and that this is observable at both programmatic and electoral level (Spirova and Stefanova, forthcoming). This paper develops and extends this argument and examines it in the context of the experience of ethnic minority parties in Bulgaria, Latvia, Romania and Slovakia. It uses the EuroManifesto and the Voter Studies of the European Elections Study (2009) to bring a stronger comparative base and an individual level component into the study.
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