Minority Democratic Agency

Minority democratic agency is a key component of democratic sovereignty in states that include ethno-cultural minority populations. It means the ability of minority actors to engage in democratic forms of contestation in pursuit of minority interests, not just as recipients of policies designed for them but as participants in policy design and implementation.

In our understanding, minority democratic agency has two key dimensions: (1) claims-making and bargaining; and (2) community organizing. This project focuses on the second dimension. It aims to capture this aspect of minority agency through the description of meso-level institutional structures that underpin and shape minority political strategies.

The following three roles of minority institutions are important for us:

  • First, minority institutions constitute an intermediary institutional sphere between ordinary people and political elites, with important implications for:
    (a) the capacity of minority members to articulate claims and mobilize effectively for shared interests; and
    (b) the accountability of minority political elites to minority communities.
    Thus, this sphere becomes a key component of a resilient minority, which is a central concept of the larger research project mentioned above. Resilience enables ethno-national minorities to become part of a democratic society, instead of alienation or exit from democracy. In our understanding, meso-level institutional structures play a pivotal role in this respect.
  • Second, minority institutions have a significant bonding role – in the sense that they provide a framework necessary for ethno-cultural reproduction. Without minority institutions, ethnicity (which exists through a continuous maintenance and contestation of ethnic boundaries) is not possible.[1]
  • Third, there is also a bridging role between minority and majority communities, as minority institutions shape the models of minority socialization and integration into the larger society.

[1] Csergo & Regelmann "Europeanization and Minority Political Action in Central and Eastern Europe" Problems of Post-Communism, volume 64, issue 5 (Sept-Oct 2017), pp. 215-218.