The political representation of ethnic minorities in the party systems of Central and Eastern European states remains understudied despite the consolidation of democracy in these countries following their accession to the EU. This paper asks what institutional factors influence the way ethnic minorities are represented in the party systems of Central and Eastern European states. It does so based on a comparison of ethnic minorities in two paired cases (Slovakia/Romania and Estonia/Latvia), each of which shows similarities in some regards but have different outcomes in terms of party representation. The paper specifically examines explanations for the diverse forms through which minorities are represented in these four countries with a focus on three distinct types: ethnic particularist minority parties, integrationist minority parties, and accommodative majority parties. We examine two institutional/political factors that influence specific minority party types: (1) electoral systems and (2) political strategies of the dominant ethnic elite. We argue that while electoral systems do play a role in explaining differences in the party representation of minorities, they become particularly important in the broader political institutional context that emerged in the first decade following the collapse of communism. The manner in which dominant ethnic political-elites approached minority representation in the early years of democratization is critical in explaining different types of party representation that ensued.

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Keywords Central Europe, conceptual definition, Eastern Europe, ethnic parties, ethnicity/language/race
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Journal East European Politics and Societies
Nedelcu, H. (Harry), & DeBardeleben, J. (2015). Conceptualizing Party Representation of Ethnic Minorities in Central and Eastern Europe: A Typology of Ethnic Minority Parties. East European Politics and Societies, 30(2), 381–403. doi:10.1177/0888325415599192