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John Ishiyama, "Ethnic parties: Their emergence and political impact," Party Politics, 17 (March, 2011), 147-149. [Available at ]

First paragraph:
This special issue of Party Politics is about ethnic parties. Although of great interest recently, there has been little in the way of systematic study of the origins and impact of ethnic parties, although there certainly has been considerable debate over whether or not ethnic parties play a positive or negative role in new democracies. This special issue does not purport to offer the 'final' word on the impact of ethnic parties; however, in our view, it does represent an important start. There are three reasons why a comparative analysis of the development of ethnic parties is warranted. First, unlike other political parties, ethnic parties have been widely viewed as 'unique' organizations when compared to other party types (see Gunther and Diamond, 2003 and Kitschelt, 2001) - that is, unlike other parties which are essentially 'agencies of mobilization and as such have helped to integrate local communities into the nation or the broader federation' (Lipset and Rokkan, 1967: 4; see also Huntington, 1968 and Apter, 1965). Ethnic parties do not seek integration into broader national identities. Rather, they limit their appeal to a particular ethnic or regional constituency, and 'explicitly seek to draw boundaries' between ethnic 'friends' and 'foes' (Kitschelt, 2001). However, what is rarely addressed in the literature is how these ethnic parties form. Why is it the case that some groups form their own parties and others do not? Moreover, why do multiple ethnic parties form and compete for the loyalties of a particular ethnic group. These processes are little understood, and systematic work on how these parties form, or on the process by which a party as an organization links with ethnic boundaries, would advance the field considerably.

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Last Paragraph:
(Next to last paragraph) The six articles that appear in this special issue seek to address, in part, these issues. First, the articles focus specifically on ethnic parties: what they are, how they form and their effects on peace, democracy and economic development. Second, they have a global reach, ranging from Africa, to Europe, to Latin America. The first piece, by Kanchan Chandra, focuses on the definition of an ethnic party, outlining the specific criteria that characterize such parties. The articles by Roberta Rice and Sherrill Stroschein deal with how ethnic parties emerge and link with their constituencies. Matthias Basedau and Anika Moroff examine the increasingly common practice of banning ethnic parties, and assess whether it is really an effective policy option in preventing inter-ethnic political strife. Marijke Breuning and I question whether all ethnic parties are the same, and examine their relative impact on democratic consolidation in post-communist Eastern Europe. Finally, Jo´hanna Birnir and David Waguespack examine whether political inclusion of ethnic parties contributes or detracts from economic growth.

Last updated March 2011