Counting Heads? Ethnic Voting in Europe

Wednesday, June 26, 2013
1.15 (PC Hoofthuis)
Femke Avtalyon , Political Science, Leiden University
Ethnic politics are generally considered to be different from mainstream party politics, because the influence of ethnicity on the individual level of the voter is expected to take supremacy over any other salient issue. As a consequence,  the individual level of the ethnic voter is not considered in studies of ethnic party politics, which are mainly conducted at the party level of system level, thereby treating individual ethnic voters as a homogeneous group with homogeneous preferences. Chandra (2004) and Birnir (2007) have theorized the influence of structural factors on the individual ethnic vote, however, an empirical test for the individual level has not yet been performed. This paper asks the question whether this core assumption about the preferences of the ethnic voter is used rightfully. It uses recent data of established surveys (e.g. European Election Studies, World Values Survey and European Social Survey) to study the ethnic vote share within countries that have elected ethnic parties in their party systems. The results indicate that ethnic voters cannot be treated as a homogeneous group, but rather have to be studied as individual and also strategic voters.
  • CES 2013 Avtalyon.pdf (437.6 kB)