Politics of Ethnicity and Nationalism

The process of democratization revolves around the politics of ethnicity and nationalism. This implies that in order for political analysts or human rights activists to spread and consolidate democracy, they need to reconsider the potential benefits and risks of nationalism. In the democratization process, the risk is that the opportunities offered by federal arrangements facilitate the ethnic nationalists to assemble their resources.

In most cases, ethnic conflicts develop as a result of countrywide democratic elections. Through analyzing the process of democratization, it is evident that societies that are ethnically diverse exhibit unique dilemmas. Scholars argue that states which face significant ethnic conflicts encounter obstacles to achieve competitive politics. However, there are factors that examine and overcome such obstacles and imply successful democracy in societies that are ethnically divided.

Electoral politics contribute to the issues that connect democracy with ethnic diversity. For instance,  ethnic conflicts undermine democracy when there is polarization and exclusion of the electoral politics. This means that if ethnic divisions translate to ethnically related parties, politics will polarize by revealing descriptive identities.  This makes it difficult for the democratization process to develop, especially in aspects concerning decision making. This is because it renders the maintenance of elections that are competitive which subjects majority to be threatened and minority to be excluded. Conversely, elections that are competitive spur mobilization in societies that are ethnically divided. Scholars claim that the introduction of elections which are competitive in weak democratic states increases the development of ethnic conflicts. This happens when the democratic institutions amplify the opportunities, and incentives embark to nationalistic appeals.


Studies provide examples, such as some states in Eastern Europe, to reflect on how the democratization process interacts with ethnic politics. It is evident that ethnic minorities who stay in the region are geographically concentrated, which leads to ethnic mobilization at national and regional levels. The subsequent breakdown and repeated establishment of multinational empires are part of the democratization process in the region that has led to ethnic politics. Democratization procedure is reflected in ethnic politics via minority representation. This is because the international forces and political ethnic factors perceive ethnic diversity as an indicator of inclusiveness in the ethnic regime. Through democracy, minority parties get a chance to win a few seats where their ethnic group is highly concentrated. Democratization process interacts with ethnic politics when it allows small parties to participate in decision making and present the interest of the minority.

Furthermore, democratization connects with ethnic politics through parties. For instance, ethnic parties and representation of legislative minorities identifies electoral politics, and ethnicity via ethnic relations. The interaction is clear when ethnic diversity exhibits broader effects in the party system. Scholars use ethnic diversity as a substitute to show social heterogeneity. In result, there is a positive relationship between the party system and the ethnic groups. In addition, democracy promotes ethnic diversity among the parties by producing electoral constituencies, which are discrete to support various political parties. Democratization interacts with ethnic politics through post-communist states.

This interaction plays a significant role in decision making and improving political attitudes in different ethnic groups. It incorporates a wide range of post-communist countries such as Bulgaria, Ukraine, and counties of the Baltic region.  In post-communist elections, ethnic parties use general phenomena in some of the ethnically diverse countries to facilitate the democratization process. The connection is also evident when ethnic minorities influence post-communist parties in different ways. Researchers argue that ethnic minorities play a significant role in reducing electoral volatility in politics. Democracy interrelates with ethnic politics when ethnic voters present their stable preferences.

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In addition, there are factors that facilitate interaction of democratic procedures and ethnic politics. Demographic factors contribute to a dominant function in that they determine the translation of ethnic identity into electoral outcomes and preferences. Demographic factors contribute to resource mobilization and promote democratic elections by coordinating and mobilizing actions that involve a large group of people. In a democratic process, ethnicity serves as a general identity that prompts behaviors and preferences, which also penalizes others. In this regard, the three aspects that form ethnic composition include geographic concentration, minority population, and its relative diversity. In a democratic process, the size of the ethnic group also contributes to a large voting number. In this case, countries with large minority populations reflect ethnic parties with greater viability.

However, researchers argue that the relative diversity in a minority population tends to affect the mobilization potential. For instance, this affects states such as Rwanda with a relatively large minority population. The most rampant ethnic group in this country is the Hutus then followed by the Tutsis. In the beginning, with the Tutsi feudal kingdom, , the Hutus were a dominated collective group. The tension between this two groups which was primarily focused on race, began with the Belgian colonization. According to the Belgians, the Tutsis were the superior ethnicity. This fact resulted to apprehension which eventually led to the Rwandan genocide.

Institutional factors also reveal how the democratization process connects with ethnic politics. This can also affect the relationship of electoral politics and ethnicity. It applies in states such as Estonia, where the laws of citizenship determine individuals to vote and eliminate minorities from the voting process. The absence and presence of institutional provisions to represent minority influences representations of the minority in the legislature and affects ethnic groups in mobilizing elections. Democratization interacts with ethnic politics, which is evident in ethnic relations. The ethnic relations operate in a way that enables the ethnic minority to mobilize in elections.

Democratization process interacts with ethnic politics when it creates ethnic relations. This allows the minority party to safeguard their rights with the assistance of a new democracy. Politics and elite interaction also facilitate the democratic process and ethnic politics. Scholars argue that the trajectory that is evident in ethnic politics is due to decisions passed by elites at crucial times. For instance, in countries such as Russia, the ethnic elites surrender votes from the region. This happens in the presidential elections when there is a battle for power between the regions and the center.

Concerning the politics of ethnicity and nationalism, there are ways in which the democratic political institution exacerbates or mitigates the differences between ethnic groups in a political arena. The democratic political institution intensifies differences in ethnic groups, which leads to their separation. According to the experts, the issue of division in ethnic groups affects states that are not democratic. This means that there is a need to establish a democratic government to resolve the differences that affect the ethnic groups. Furthermore, power sharing in such ethnic groups facilitates decision making in politics, primarily in education and cultural areas. The democratic political institutions can mitigate political differences in ethnic groups when they implement policies that revolve around power sharing and autonomy.

A good example that applies in this case reflects the governing council of Bosnia, which receives critics on political grounds. Some of the issues in the operations in Bosnia were brought about by the  Western culture world, which incorporated the United States. Britain and France. Given the structural political standing, that determines relations of authority, Bosnia ethnic group gave the impression of their awareness of their incapability to take hold of the state as an in one piece. Such conditions as well as the Western countries convictions that Bosnia would be able to deal with any crisis were the reasons behind Bosnia  civil war.

The concept of power sharing democracy also affects other divided societies, such as India and Canada. Democratic institutions might worsen differences in ethnic groups when they undermine democracy in electoral politics. This means that such issues may threaten the majority and exclude the minority from participating in the democratic process. Furthermore, the democratic political institutions can promote differences in ethnic groups when they allow the geographic concentration in minority groups to influence the electoral mobilization. This might further lead to a situation whereby if individuals are separated in ethnic groups due to politics, it can easily affect the electoral mobilization. These political institutions can also worsen differences in ethnic groups when they apply the citizenship laws.


In result, this hinders the minority from participating in the democratic process because they determine the individuals who can cast votes. Furthermore, the presence of such institutional demands affects the minority representation. This reduces the chances of minority individuals when it comes to their representation in the legislature and also affects the manner in which ethnic populations participate in elections. The intensification of democratic political institutions to ethnic groups has a dramatic indirect and direct impact on minorities’ electoral mobilization. However, if the democratic political institutions mitigate, they promote ethnic relations in both minority and majority groups in the political arena. This implies that there will be no differences in ethnic groups because the minorities will be able to represent themselves in the legislative power in the same way as the majority, hence promote democracy. This also means that when a democratic political institution mitigates, it will protect the minority groups from discrimination. For instance, in states, such as Russia, which consist of small ethnic groups, it is only through mitigation that the differences in the groups can be stopped.

Analyzing this situation, it is evident that the Russian ethnic population fails to acknowledge their democratic political institution in a structure that is ethnic federal. As a part of the mitigation process, the Russian Federation has adopted the Soviet practice to identify the federal units that affect ethnic groups. The democratic political institution should also diminish differences that affect the minority groups by creating ethnic parties. For instance in Russia, the lack of ethnic parties is due to resource mobilization. However, this results in a situation where the minority ethnic group disperses across diverse ethnic groups. This promotes support to viable ethnic parties, but hinders such groups from practicing their democratic rights.

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