Ethnic Group Representativeness and the Effect on Political Conflict


  • Anne Lina Tholen Maastricht University



Abstract. This paper looks at the relationship between the underrepresentation of ethnicminority groups in governments and the effect on violence and conflict that is initiated bythese groups. Ethnic minority groups that are underrepresented in political decision-makingare likely to express their opinions outside of the political routine, by means of conflict. Threepotential determinants of representation are analyzed. An increase in the effective number ofparliamentary parties is expected to lead to more ethnic groups being represented and thus to adecrease in conflict. A more proportional electoral system or electoral type should lead tomore parties in parliament and to a more proportionate depiction of society, thus includingethnic minority groups more adequately and decreasing conflict. An increase in the share ofseats of parties classified as ethnic relative to the share of the population held by ethnicgroups, the share ratio, yields more proportional representation and should therefore alsoresult in less conflict. Empirical analysis of a sample of 52 countries consistently supports thepredictions regarding the share ratio, while the rest of the theory cannot be supported reliably.The results should be evaluated with caution due to an apparent mismatch between ethnicgroups and ethnic parties.


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