Circumstantial Liberals: Ethnic Minorities and Political Competition

An open seminar by Professor Jan Rovny: Part of the Department of Government Speaker Series

  • Tue 3 Dec 19

    14:30 - 16:00

  • Colchester Campus


  • Event speaker

    Jan Rovny

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars
    Speaker Series

  • Event organiser

    Government, Department of

  • Contact details

    Alexandra Hennessy

Join us for an insightful open seminar by Professor Jan Rovny, as he discusses his work on ethnic minorities and political competition.

In this talk, Professor Jan Rovny will focus on the theoretical argument, and demonstrate the implications of ethnic minority presence for the formation of party system responses to diverse political issues, particularly immigration and EU integration in eastern Europe, through large-N quantitative analyses.

Circumstantial Liberals: Ethnic Minorities and Political Competition

Jan Rovny: Circumstantial Liberals: Ethnic Minorities and Political Competition 

Ethnic minorities make contemporary Europe increasingly diverse. The prevailing wisdom in research on ethnic politics is that ethnicity is a trouble-maker disrupting programmatic politics -- it tends to prioritize group identity over ideology, polity or policy, principle over compromise. In short, ethnicity is expected to be a source of particularistic tension. This book takes a theoretical step back. Approaching ethnic politics as a component of normal politics, it investigates the ideological potential of ethnicity, and examines the conditions that determine the formation of diverse preferences and behavior among ethnic groups and their representatives.

The book seeks to answer central questions: What are the political preferences of ethnic minority groups and their representatives? How are ethnic preferences translated into political representation, and how does this representation shape political competition? The book proceeds from the expectation that ethnic minorities seek group preservation. While group preservation is best ensured via self-government, the possibility of attaining self-government is uncertain. Ethnic minorities with higher chances of self-government see themselves as provisional minorities, and are likely to strive for separation, irredenta, or asymmetric rights.

Most ethnic minorities, however, face low chances of achieving self-government, and, consequently, they remain as permanent minorities in societies dominated by other groups. This book hypothesizes that permanent minorities in the search for group preservation champion rights and liberties. This translates into broader ideological preferences and political behavior, inducing the formation of liberal political poles on the one hand, and anti-liberal opposition on the other. This dynamic is system forming, as it configures political cleavages, and shapes party systems.

Simultaneously, conditional factors cross-pressure ethnic minority search for rights and liberties, potentially attenuating ethnic liberalism and inducing exclusionary particularism. The identification of these conditions is of central theoretical importance, as well as of practical use. The book combines the study of ethnic politics with research on electoral behavior and party competition, while studying both minorities in eastern Europe in comparison with dominant majorities.

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