Patrons or Champions? the Organizational Strategies of Ethnic Parties

Wednesday, June 26, 2013
1.15 (PC Hoofthuis)
Maria Spirova , Leiden University
Petr Kopecky , Political Science, Leiden University
The limited and ethnically delineated number of members, supporters, and potential voters that an ethnic party has is the major reason why such parties are expected to behave differently than mainstream parties. Ethnic parties are thus expected to be constrained in terms of electoral strategies and policy positioning, just as their organizational efforts are expected to be focused on the distribution of selective benefits to the members of the ethnic group that they represent.

This paper addressed the issue of ethnic party exclusivity by asking the following questions: how the ethnic party’s numerically limited and group delineated electoral base influence its organizational strategies? Is their membership limited to members of the group, i.e., are they exclusive or inclusive?? To what extent do clientelistic linkages dominate the party organization? The paper builds a theoretical argument about the links between the party’s base and its organizational strategies and applied it empirically to the ethnic parties in Bulgaria, Romania, Latvia and Slovakia.