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John Ishiyama and Marijke Breuning, "What's in a name? Ethnic party identity and democratic development in post-communist politics," Party Politics, 17 (March, 2011), 223-241. [Available at ]

First paragraph:
There is a considerable amount of debate in the existing literature on the effects of ethnic parties on democratic development. On the one hand, several scholars have argued that the mere appearance of ethnic parties leads to the 'ethnification' of the party system that ultimately leads to a spiral towards instability and the potential collapse of incipient democracies (Horowitz, 1985; Rabushka and Shepsle, 1972). On the other hand, several scholars have argued that ethnic parties provide opportunities for interest articulation from groups that might normally be shut out of the political system (Birnir, 2007; Chandra, 2004; Ishiyama, 2001). Indeed, a long-standing argument made by advocates of the consociational school is that ethnic parties help dampen conflict by channelling demands through legal channels, thus increasing 'voice' and preventing 'exit' of ethnic groups via conflict (Lijphart, 1977)

Figures and Tables:
Table 1. Dependence on ethnic group voters for support by party:
Table 2. Satisfaction with democracy scores for (i) ethnic supporters of ethnic party
Table 3. Average satisfaction with democracy scores and average differences between satisfaction scores of supporters of ethnic party and general population

Last Paragraph:
The above work calls into question the often implicit assumption in the current literature on ethnic political parties that all such parties are basically the same, whether they explicitly proclaim to represent a particular group or not. Organizational identities appear to correlate with the attitudinal predilections of the parties' followers. Perhaps, then, parties that are encouraged (or required) to at least officially portray themselves as non-ethnic organizations may be better at bringing their followers into accepting the democratic rules of the game than parties that portray themselves as more exclusivist organizations. Although the evidence presented is limited to the first half of the 1990s, the findings suggest that this indeed may be the case. As more data become available, this proposition could be tested outside post-communist cases. Whatever the case, there will certainly be no shortage of cases of ethnic parties to include in such a future study, whether or not they call themselves ethnic.

Last updated March 2011