In societies divided on ethnic and religious lines, problems of democracy are magnified – particularly where groups are mobilized into parties. With the principle of majority rule, minorities should be less willing to endorse democratic institutions where their parties persistently lose elections. While such problems should also hamper transitions to democracy, several diverse Eastern European states have formed democracies even under these conditions. In this book, Sherrill Stroschein argues that sustained protest and contention by ethnic Hungarians in Romania and Slovakia brought concessions on policies that they could not achieve through the ballot box, in contrast to Transcarpathia, Ukraine. In Romania and Slovakia, contention during the 1990s made each group accustomed to each other's claims and aware of the degree to which each could push its own. Ethnic contention became a de facto deliberative process that fostered a moderation of group stances, allowing democratic consolidation to slowly and organically take root.
• Rich detail in empirical discussion of Eastern Europe, with use of four local languages in research, and use of event analysis, a method that is growing in the field • Overturns the notion of ethnic protest as dangerous and leading to ethnic conflict; rather, shows how it can contribute to incorporating minorities in governance and policymaking processes, in ways that could not take place via the ballot box alone • Discusses protest as a form of de facto deliberation, thus bringing together normative theory on inclusive forms of democracy and contentious politics
1. Ethnic protest, moderation, and democratization; 2. Time, process, and events in democratization; 3. Ethnic contention in context; 4. Local violence and uncertainty in Târgu Mureş, 1990; 5. The power of symbols: Romanians, Hungarians, and King Mathias in Cluj; 6. Forging language laws: schools and sign wars; 7. Debating local governance: autonomy, local control, and minority enclaves; 8. Implications of group interaction.