Does a political party based on a minor (or major) ethnicity have a place in democracy ?

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    This question could need some more editing, especially the title is misleading versus the question body. I will not edit it for now, but wil revisit in 24h – Sven Clement Dec 13 '12 at 2:07
  • Isn't this a discussion question? It seems to be asking for opinion. – DJClayworth Dec 20 '12 at 17:32
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    @SvenClement ping! 24h passed many times since then :P – o0'. Jan 30 '13 at 23:57
  • Actually I think it is a flaw on democracy if an ethnic minority is not represented well in the parliament. In Hungary we don't have any parties or strong political movements for gipsies, and we have serious issues because of their lack of abilities to represent themselves and state their needs collectively. – CsBalazsHungary Mar 7 '13 at 9:04

In my opinion Yes absolutely however it can be sign of deep social and cultural turmoil when this starts to occur on a large scale.

Political parties should form around a common set of beliefs, and if a particular minority ethnicity in a nation feels that its people are not being represented well or that this ethnicities values are going unheard then forming an ethnic party becomes a healthy democratic outlet for government activism. This is much preferable to the alternative of ethnic minorities being ignored or shunned from politics, or for revolts, terrorism or full scale civil war to occur.

Because ethnic minorities are a minority by overall population, ethnic parties around minority groups generally must form coalitions with other minority parties that they share some similarities with to gain any type of meaningful power in the parliamentary system. This encourages other ethnic parties as well as tradtitional parties to work closely and compromise with one another to achieve common goals. This collaboration encourages good relations between different ethnicities in the same country.

Are Ethnic Parties preferred? Probably not. The best political party is one that is not exclusive based on race, creed, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation but then it is not always possible for an ethnic minority to be accurately represented in any other way. It should be worrisome that minority groups feel that certain elements of the society or culture exclude them or do not closely represent them in any meaningful way. The most worrisome would be if an ethnic party formed around the majority ethnicity as this can spell Majority Tyranny against minority groups in the country.

Based on the cultural makeup of the citizenry however, ethnic parties can make sense in the democratic process.

  • You seem to fail to address the issue of parties for the majority ethnicity. – liftarn Jun 25 '14 at 11:12

Depends on what you mean by "have a place". In a true liberal democracy, people have freedom to associate by any principle they want, including the principle of belonging to a specific ethnicity, religion, ideology, sexual preferences or soccer team tastes.

However, if such party would advocate preferential treatment of certain ethnicity by the state, it should not be allowed to turn this advocacy into the law. The easiest way of doing this is to avoid electing such people into power and generally shunning them and shaming them out of the political scene. However, it is virtually impossible to ensure such party would not be able to prevail - ultimately, the people are the sovereign, so if most of the people want it, it will happen one way or another. However, such actions - i.e. preference of certain ethnicity by the state - are definitely incompatible with the modern democracy. Thus, for citizens that value the modern democracy it is prudent to avoid such parties by all means and ensure they never have a chance to gain any power.

Fortunately, in most current liberal democracies ethnic parties are mostly bothered with, in the best case, preventing ethnic discrimination, and in the worst case - trading votes for the parts of the budget directed to the projects they see to disproportionally benefit their ethnicity. As such, they do not pose much danger to the democracy.

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    @DVK yes, AA is a racist measure which only can be supported by appealing to the ghost of past racial discrimination - which becomes harder and harder as time passes. US is reasonable good, but definitely not ideal democracy, and treatment of race is one of the biggest problems, due to almost complete impossibility of rational public discourse on the topic and various groups having their political and monetary interest depending on continuing the current sorry state of affairs. – StasM Dec 13 '12 at 6:37
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    "Past racial discrimination" in the USA is less of a ghost than one might wish. – TRiG Jan 29 '13 at 18:33
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    @TriG I have never heard about any US institution that still discriminates negatively against persons protected by AA. Could you name an example of such institutions? Of course, there are racist individuals which may use their posts to discriminate against the policy, but those are dealt with as any abuse of the official capacity is dealt with. But official discrimination as far as I know is neither instituted nor tolerated anymore. – StasM Jan 30 '13 at 21:23
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    @StasM. I never actually mentioned official institutions. I was talking about society in general. But since you mention it, law enforcement routinely discriminates against ethnic minorities in the USA. It may not be actually codified in the laws, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen. – TRiG Jan 30 '13 at 21:25
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    @TRiG As I said, it is known there are racists out there, and some of them might work for law enforcement too, unfortunately. However, to justify AA, one should point to the systemic discrimination that has effects comparable to AA itself, which AA is supposed to correct. While being harassed by a racist police officer is bad, I don't see how it can relate to AA - which is what we were discussing. – StasM Jan 30 '13 at 21:38

I'm not aware of any political party that stands candidates everywhere in the world, so I guess, in one sense, every party is ethnically based.


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