Project

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Ethnic Quotas and Representation of Minorities in Local Politics in Bosnia and Herzegovina

English title Ethnic Quotas and Representation of Minorities in Local Politics in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Applicant Stojanovic Nenad
Number 128253
Funding scheme SCOPES
Research institution Zentrum für Demokratie Aarau ZDA Universität Zürich
Institution of higher education University of Zurich - ZH
Main discipline Political science
Start/End 01.01.2010 - 31.12.2013
Approved amount 90'000.00
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All Disciplines (4)

Discipline
Political science
Ethnology
Sociology
Legal sciences

Keywords (7)

Minorities; Ethnic quotas; Ethnic idendities; Bosnia and Herzegovina; electoral design; representation; divided societies

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary
ContextBosnia and Herzegovina (BH) is a typical example of a "divided society" which has been struggling to become a viable democracy. Its electoral laws, as well as the general institutional framework, follow the "consociational model" of democracy. As a result, its governments are a product of post-electoral coalitions, multiethnic parties are rare (and rather unsuccessful), the once moderate monoethnic parties tend to adopt a more radical political discourse. Such a system, however, ensures an adequate representation of all main ethnic groups at the level of the common state. Yet problems of minority representation arise at the local level. For this reason, in the early 2000s, a number of larger municipalities adopted statutes in which they fixed quotas for a minimal representation of minorities in the respective parliaments. The quota applies, first, to the representatives of the three "constituent peoples" (Bosniaks, Serbs, and Croats), and, second, to the group of "Others" (e.g., Jews, Roma, Albanians, or citizens without ethnic identity). More recently, new amendments to the electoral law introduced quotas for minorities belonging to the group of "Others" in municipalities in which such groups represented at least 3% of the local population in 1991. GoalsThe main goal of this project is to explore, both analytically and empirically, the use of ethnic quotas in the local politics of BH. We will, first, develop a theoretical model which may help to anticipate strategic reactions of political actors to the quota system. Second, we will look at the consequences of electoral laws and party strategies for the representation of ethnic minorities at the municipal level. In particular, we will investigate if and how ethnic minorities get represented. In the third part, we aim at studying how representation of minorities substantially affects their political inclusion and policy outcomes related to ethnic diversity. Fourth, we will gather data at the level of municipalities from the first free post-WWII elections in BH, which were held in 1990 and were crucial for the eventual political developments in the country. In the last part, we will analyse identity representations that are implied by the Constitution and electoral laws.SignificanceThe significance of the project is twofold. First, it will deliver new data and insights into the politics of ethnic quotas in BH, which may have an impact on decision makers both in BH and in other countries of the region. Second, the project will contribute to a wider academic literature on electoral design and minority protection in divided societies.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Publications

Publication
Democratic Transition and Electoral Design in Plural Societies: The Case of Bosnia and Herzegovina's 1990 Elections
Kapidžić Damir (2015), Democratic Transition and Electoral Design in Plural Societies: The Case of Bosnia and Herzegovina's 1990 Elections, in Ethnopolitics, 15(3), 311-327.
Introduction: Ethnocracy at the Heart of Europe
Stojanović Nenad, Hodžić Edin (2015), Introduction: Ethnocracy at the Heart of Europe, in Ethnopolitics, 15(4), 382-389.
Minority Rights and Realpolitik: Justice-based vs. Pragmatic Arguments for Reserving Seats for National Minorities
Jusić Mirna, Stojanovic Nenad (2015), Minority Rights and Realpolitik: Justice-based vs. Pragmatic Arguments for Reserving Seats for National Minorities, in Ethnopolitics, 15(4), 404-417.
Political Representation of Minorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina: How Reserved Seats Affect Minority Representatives’ Influence on Decision-making and Perceived Substantive Representation
Hodžić Edin, Mraović Borisa (2015), Political Representation of Minorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina: How Reserved Seats Affect Minority Representatives’ Influence on Decision-making and Perceived Substantive Representation, in Ethnopolitics, 15(4), 418-434.
Reserved Seats, Political Parties, and Minority Representation
Zuber Cristina Isabel (2015), Reserved Seats, Political Parties, and Minority Representation, in Ethnopolitics, 15(4), 390-403.
Ethnic mobilization and the impact of proportional and majoritarian electoral rules on voting behaviour: the 1990 elections to two chambers of parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Mraović Borisa (2014), Ethnic mobilization and the impact of proportional and majoritarian electoral rules on voting behaviour: the 1990 elections to two chambers of parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in Southeast European and Black Sea Studies, 14(4), 585-606.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Analitika - Center for Social Research (Sarajevo) Bosnia-Hercegovina (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Exchange of personnel
ACIPS, University of Sarajevo Bosnia-Hercegovina (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results

Scientific events



Self-organised

Title Date Place
Workshop 2: SCOPES project "Ethnic Quotas and Representation of Minorities in Local Politics in Bosnia and Herzegovina" 20.05.2013 Sarajevo, Bosnia-Hercegovina
Workshop 1: SCOPES project "Ethnic Quotas and Representation of Minorities in Local Politics in Bosnia and Herzegovina" 23.11.2012 Aarau, Switzerland

Knowledge transfer events



Self-organised

Title Date Place
SCOPES Conference "Ethno-democracy in the heart of Europe: political mobilization and representation of ethnic groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina in a comparative perspective" 23.09.2013 Sarajevo, Bosnia-Hercegovina

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
111111 Transforming Pius Branzeu Center of Laporoscopic Surgery and Microsurgery (PBCLSM) Timisoara into Eastern European Zonal Center of Development and Research in Laparascopic Surgery 01.01.2006 SCOPES

Abstract

Bosnia and Herzegovina is a typical example of a `divided society' which has been struggling to become a viable democracy. Its electoral law, as well as the general institutional framework, follow closely Lijphart's `consociational model' of democracy. As a result, its governments are a product of post-electoral coalitions, multiethnic parties are rare and rather unsuccessful, the once moderate monoethnic parties tend to adopt a more radical political discourse. Such a system should at least provide for an adequate institutional representation of all main ethnic groups. Indeed, it does so at the state level and even, to some extent, at the level of the two sub-state `entities'.Yet problems of minority representation arise at the local level, in the municipalities. For this reason, in the early 2000s some larger towns (Sarajevo, Mostar, Brcko) adopted statutes in which they fixed a quota for a minimal representation of minorities in the respective parliaments. The quota applies, first, to the representatives of the three `constituent peoples' (Bosniaks, Serbs, and Croats), and, second, to the group of `Others' (e.g., Jews, Roma, Albanians, Czechs, or of those citizens who claim not to have any ethnic identity). More recently, new amendments to the Election Law introduced quotas for ethnic minorities belonging to the group of `Others' in municipalities in which such groups represent at least 3% of the local population according to the 1991 census. The introduction of ethnic quotas in local politics constitute is, thus, an interesting and still largely unexplored field of research, which constitutes the background of this research project.More generally, electoral systems are one of the most important elements of the institutional design. There is a large consensus in academic literature that the very success of democracy in transition and in post-conflict countries may depend greatly on the design of the electoral system. The use of `quotas' or `reserved seats' is considered as one element of the electoral system.Electoral design is, of course, important everywhere, but probably plays a particularly sensitive role in so-called `plural' or `divided' societies. It might possibly foster moderate instead of radical communal (or `ethnic’) parties, and/or multiethnic instead of monoethnic parties. Certain electoral designs are expected to provide - under certain circumstances - incentives for coalition-building before the elections (more stable), or after the elections (less stable). It can encourage inter-ethnic or intra-ethnic vote of citizens. And it might give assurances to different groups that they will have an adequate representation in parliament and government. Even though most of us would agree that prospects for democracy in deeply divided society are greater if the parties have moderate positions with regards to ethnic issues, if governments are stable rather than unstable, if all groups are well represented in the institutions, or if the citizens-electors do not vote exclusively for the candidates for their ethnic groups, it is disputed whether an electoral system can contribute to these goals, leave alone whether a single electoral system exists that helps to achieve all these goals at the same time. Academic experts on electoral design in divided societies thus often strongly disagree about the type of electoral system which is best suited for such societies.The two most prominent scholars in this debate, Donald Horowitz and Arend Lijphart (to cite only them), have advocated completely opposing electoral systems. Horowitz -- who believes that the prime goals of constitution makers should be the fostering of moderate, possibly multiethnic, parties, pre-electoral coalitions and inter-ethnic vote -- has favoured majoritarian systems (especially the `alternative vote', also called `instant run-off'). Lijphart, on the other hand, argues that the inclusion of every communal `segment' (i.e. ethnic group), its proportionate representation in a (consociational) government, and substantial autonomy rights are necessary for a moderation of communal conflicts, and this goal is best achieved in many contexts by proportional representation (PR) in large districts. Nevertheless, most authors seem to agree that whatever electoral system we choose we should assure that in divided societies minority groups have at least a minimal representation in political institutions, especially in parliament. It is assumed that a total lack of representation of a minority group would undermine the very legitimacy of such a democracy and, on the long run, would severely damage their self-esteem.To achieve this minimal representation, it has been suggested in both theory and practice to introduce a system of `ethnic quotas', that is, reserved seats for representation of given groups. The quotas are often considered an efficient instrument for achieving minimal representation (independent of numbers), but they can also be used for achieving a (more or less) proportional representation, or even an over-representation of groups, depending on population statistics but also on the focus group.In Bosnia-Herzegovina, despite the importance of inclusion of minorities and decentralisation efforts, the question of minority representation at the local level has so far received only minor attention in the field of comparative politics. Yet the effect of quotas in municipalities are closely linked to the mechanisms that works likewise at the national level. The significance of the project is thus twofold: focus on a largely unexplored academic field of research, but also possibly impact on decision makers, that is, on the future development in the fields of electoral design and minority protection, in BH but also other countries of the region, which have to deal with similar issues in local politics.In order to evaluate the actual potential of ethic quotas for favouring minority representation at the local level, the proposed research is divided in 5 parts: in Part A, our goal is to analyse the implementation rules of the ethnic quotas in detail. We will develop a theoretical model which helps to anticipate strategic reactions of political actors (parties and other competitors in elections) to the quota system. The expected strategic reactions are discussed according to a set of previously established criteria. In Part B, we will look at the consequences of electoral laws and party strategies for the representation of ethnic minorities at the municipal level. In particular, we will investigate if and how ethnic minorities get represented within municipalities. In Part C, we aim at studying how representation of minorities substantially affects their political inclusion and policy outcomes in policy fields which are related to ethnic diversity. Part D will consist in gathering detailed electoral data from the 1990 elections at the level of electoral districts and possibly of municipalities from state archives or newspaper archives. Our database will further include socioeconomic variables and data on the ethnic structure of the electoral districts/municipalities. Furthermore, it will be made publicly available. Lastly, Part E will be centred on in depth observation and analysis of the identity representations that are implied by the Constitution, the subsequent Election Law and its amendments, as well as the political strategies developed around those, through interviews, field observations and discourse analysis.
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