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Why Ethnic Parties Succeed
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Book description

Why do some ethnic parties succeed in attracting the support of their target ethnic group while others fail? In a world in which ethnic parties flourish in both established and emerging democracies alike, understanding the conditions under which such parties rise and fall is of critical importance to both political scientists and policy makers. Drawing on a study of variation in the performance of ethnic parties in India, this book builds a theory of ethnic party performance in 'patronage democracies'. Chandra shows why individual voters and political entrepreneurs in such democracies condition their strategies not on party ideologies or policy platforms, but on a headcount of co-ethnics and others across party personnel and among the electorate.


'Kanchan Chandra is one of the brightest lights in the new generation of political scholars of India. Chandra's contribution to ethnic studies is her challenge to the pessimistic premise advanced by leading scholars of ethnic politics that ethnic solidarities, unlike class and interest groups, are incompatible with and destructive of democratic processes. In her view, competition among ethnic minorities can lead to centrism and democratic survival rather than extremism and democratic destruction. She argues her case in game theoretic form while showing a good feel for the nitty gritty of Indian electoral settings.'

Susanne Hoeber Rudolph - University of Chicago

'In explaining why some ethnic parties succeed while others fail, Kanchan Chandra makes an important contribution to our understanding of ethnicity in politics. By highlighting the interaction of group size and internal party rules in a context characterized by the kind of information constraints inherent in patronage democracies, she provides a nover microfoundation for ethnic politics in competitive democracies. In addition, her book sets a new benchmark on how to combine abstract thinking and rich analysis.'

Stathis N. Kalyvas - Yale University

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