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The Quality of Divided Democracies: The Representation of the Russian-speaking Minorities in Estonia and Latvia

Cianetti, L; (2015) The Quality of Divided Democracies: The Representation of the Russian-speaking Minorities in Estonia and Latvia. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Estonia and Latvia both have a sizeable Russian-speaking minority, share a similar Soviet past, and their democratic transitions were characterised by a similar nationalising rhetoric. The two countries, however, have different experiences with minority political representation and minority grassroots mobilisation. This thesis compares Estonia and Latvia to analyse the ways in which minority voices can be included or excluded from the political processes in ethnically divided democracies. The theoretical framework of this study is informed by the literature on minority representation (mostly US-based) and ethnic parties (which has a stronger Central and Eastern European focus). My approach reframes the insights of these debates to address the fundamental question of quality of democracy in ethnically divided societies. The underpinning normative assumption is that the legitimacy of a democratic decision depends on the inclusion in the decision-making process of those most concerned by it. The quality of an ethnically-divided democracy can thus be evaluated not least by the level of inclusion its policymaking process affords the minority. In this thesis I process-trace policymaking with regard to specific, minority-sensitive policies. Five potential channels for minority inclusion in policymaking are analysed and compared: parliamentary representation, recourse to international organisations, incorporation in city governments, institutionalised civil society consultation mechanisms, and minority grassroots mobilisation. The research’s focus on the policymaking process problematises the link between desirable policies and desirable processes. The cases of Estonia and Latvia show that a liberal minority policy can be the result of an exclusionary democratic process, while an inclusionary democratic process does not necessarily return policies that are favourable to the minority. By decoupling policy outcome and the policymaking process, this study offers a new framework to assess the effects of minority political presence and inclusiveness in ethnically divided democracies.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: The Quality of Divided Democracies: The Representation of the Russian-speaking Minorities in Estonia and Latvia
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Keywords: Minorities; representation; inclusiveness; quality of democracy; Estonia; Latvia; Baltics
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > SSEES
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1469446
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