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Doctor of Philosophy
First Advisor's Name
John F. Stack, Jr.
First Advisor's Committee Title
Second Advisor's Name
Third Advisor's Name
Fourth Advisor's Name
Date of Defense
The issue of institutional engineering has gained a renewed interest with the
democratic transitions of the Central and Eastern European countries, as for some states it
has become a matter of state survival. The four countries examined in the study –
Macedonia, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria – exemplify the difficulty in establishing a
stable democratic society in the context of the resurgence of national identity. The
success of ethnonational minorities in achieving the desired policies affirming or
expanding their rights as a group was conditioned upon the cohesion of the minority as
well as the permissiveness of state institutions in terms of participation and representation
of minority members. The Hungarian minorities in Slovakia and Romania, the Turkish
minority in Bulgaria, and the Albanian minority in Macedonia, formed their political
organizations to represent their interests. However, in some cases the divergence of
strategies or goals between factions of the minority group seriously impeded its ability to
obtain the desired concessions from the majority.
The difficulty in the pursuit of policies favoring the expansion of minority rights
was further exacerbated in some of the cases by the impermissiveness of political
institutions. The political parties representing the interest of ethnonational minorities
were allowed to participate in elections, although not without suspicions about their
intent and even strong opposition from majority groups, but participation in elections and
subsequent representation in legislative bodies did not translate into adoption of the
desired policies. The ethnonational minorities’ inability to effectively influence the
decision-making process was the result of the inadequacy of democratic institutions to
process these demands and channel them through the normal political process in the
absence of majority desire to accommodate them. Despite the promise of democratic
institutions to bring about a major overhaul of the policies of forceful assimilation and
disregard for minority rights, the four cases analyzed in the study demonstrate that in
effect ethnonational minorities continued to be at the mercy of the majority, especially if
the minority was unable to position itself as a balancing actor.
Ilcheva, Maria, "Ethnic Groups and Institutions: A Study of Institutional Engineering in Four Central and Eastern European Countries" (2009). FIU Electronic Theses and Dissertations. Paper 281.