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Political Representation of National Minorities: A Case Study of Minority Parties in Serbia

Loncar, Jelena (2013) Political Representation of National Minorities: A Case Study of Minority Parties in Serbia. MA by research thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

This thesis explores the relationship between descriptive and substantive representation of national minorities. Previous studies have emphasized the importance of descriptive representation and justified the need for affirmative action measures such as reserved seats or a lower electoral threshold to achieve descriptive representation. However, this thesis differs in claiming that substantive representation of minority interests is equally, if not more, important than descriptive representation. It is argued throughout the thesis that an equal right to political representation consists of the right to be present (descriptive representation) and the right to representation of interests and perspectives (substantive representation). Although mere presence of minority representatives might have some symbolic benefits, members of minority groups primarily need the representatives to act in their interests and attempt to influence public policies. Hence, this thesis provides an answer to two important and yet insufficiently researched questions: is descriptive representation a sufficient condition for substantive and if not, in what conditions can descriptive representatives act as substantive? In aim to understand in what conditions can descriptive representatives act as substantive, this research provides an empirical analysis of the behaviour of the representatives of minority parties in the VIII National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia. More particularly, the analysis includes content analysis of all interventions in plenary parliamentary debates of the 12 national minority MPs in the period between June 2008 and May 2012. The research shows that the relationship between descriptive and substantive representation differs across minority parties. Two groups of MPs can be distinguished from the data: MPs elected on minority electoral lists creating parliamentary group of national minorities in parliament and those who were elected through pre-electoral arrangements with mainstream political parties. It is concluded that minority political parties are not a priori substantive representatives of national minorities and that descriptive representatives elected on minority electoral lists perform better as substantive representatives than descriptive representatives elected on electoral list of mainstream parties. Finally, some institutional changes are suggested which could enhance substantive representation of national minorities.

Item Type: Thesis (MA by research)
Keywords: national minority, Serbia, political representation, substantive representation, minority parties
Academic Units: The University of York > Politics (York)
Depositing User: Jelena Loncar
Date Deposited: 08 Apr 2014 08:38
Last Modified: 08 Apr 2014 08:38
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/5435

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