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16-06-2015 | Issue 2/2016

Studies in Comparative International Development 2/2016

Elections, Ethnic Parties, and Ethnic Identification in New Democracies: Evidence from the Baltic States

Journal:
Studies in Comparative International Development > Issue 2/2016
Authors:
Masaaki Higashijima, Ryo Nakai
Important notes
An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2011 annual meeting of the American Political Science Association.

Abstract

This paper explores the conditions under which democratic elections encourage citizens to identify with ethnicity. We argue that there are two mechanisms through which elections strengthen ethnic identification. First, the stronger ethnic parties are, the more intensive, ethnically exclusive political campaigns they carry out as an election approaches, resulting in strengthening citizens’ ethnic identity. Second, ethnic party mobilization drives members of other ethnic groups to develop stronger identity to their own ethnicity because such mobilization poses a serious political threat to the out-group members. Data analysis of approximately 18,000 respondents in five waves of the New Baltic Barometer supports the hypotheses. A case study of Latvia follows to illustrate that ethnic party mobilization for elections creates ethnic cleavages among the public.

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