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Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Political Science

Advisor's Name

John F. Stack, Jr.

Advisor's Title

Committee Chair

Advisor's Name

Tatiana Kostadinova

Advisor's Name

Ralph Clem

Advisor's Name

Dario Moreno

Date of Defense

3-23-2009

Abstract

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.

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