Ethnic minorities and political representation: The case of Bulgaria

in Southeastern Europe
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Abstract

The political representation of minority groups in Bulgaria is analyzed from three perspectives. The first relates to political socialization: the mechanisms of minority political preference, and their materialization into political behavior, mostly during elections or through party membership. The second relates to political actors' conduct towards minorities: their attitudes toward minority identities and the significance of minority representation in their practice. The third perspective relates to the institutional framework that politically regulates minority status. This third perspective raises questions of minimum representation, and the legal formalization of minority political parties. Bulgarian ethnic politics is analyzed regarding both the ethnic factors in constructing the political scene and the political factors in structuring the ethnic model. The present article questions the applicability of the distinction between the 'politics of ideas' and the 'politics of identities' to Southeastern Europe in general, and to Bulgaria in particular. This theoretical question is addressed through two empirical comparative analyses: the similarities and divergences of the minority management model in the Bulgarian Constitution and the one applied in the political practice, and the differences between minority representation in Bulgaria and in neighboring countries such as Romania.

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