Divergent Paths

The Divergent Paths of the Ethnic Parties in Post-Communist Transitions

George Jiglău (with Sergiu Gherghina)

In Transition Studies Review, Volume 18, Issue 2, December 2011, pp. 445-457.

This article provides a comparative analysis of the evolution of ethnic parties in the three most important ethnically divided societies in post-communist Europe (not including the former Yugoslav republics): Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia. The starting point of the analysis is the fall of communism, when ethnicity re-emerged as a salient issue in each of these three states and a potential source of conflict. In these contexts, the ethnic parties formed by each of the most important minorities in these states became crucial actors of transition, but also highly relevant at the level of highly volatile party systems. In contrast with the wide majority of the literature, which focuses on single case studies, this exploratory study allowed for a comparative multi-dimensional account of the development and evolution of several ethnic parties, paying attention to the national contexts. Rather than reaching major conclusions that can be generalized for ethnic parties in general, this article provides a good base for further comparative studies on ethnic parties as crucial actors in divided societies.