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Ethnicity, strategic mobilization and voting in the Romanian parliamentary elections of 2008

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Tatar, Marius Ioan

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Abstract Social scientists have made contradictory claims about the impact of ethnicity on social cohesion, the levels of social trust, civic and political engagement. This paper conceptualizes ethnic diversity as a contextual variable and evaluates its effect on the electoral participation of the Hungarian minority from Romania, using a case study of the Romanian Parliamentary Elections of 2008. The article examines the differences in turnout between Hungarian electors living in different counties of Romania, and how this varies by the ethnic composition of the counties. We discern two patterns of electoral participation of the Hungarian minority: lower turnout in ethnically non-competitive counties (i.e. low ethnical diversity, with the size of Hungarian minority below 8% or above 50% of the county’s total population); higher turnout in ethnically competitive counties (i.e. higher ethnical diversity, with the size of the Hungarian minority between 8% and 50% of the county’s population). The findings support the “strategic mobilization hypothesis” according to which electoral mobilization was unevenly distributed due to various stakes attributed to voting in different electoral districts, followed by a pragmatic cost/benefit logic adopted by the leaders and partisans of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (DAHR).
Keywords Romania; parliamentary election; voting behavior; minority; ethnicity; Hungary; mobilization; voter turnout; political activity
Classification Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture
Document language English
Publication Year 2011
Page/Pages p. 86-107
Journal Journal of Identity and Migration Studies, 5 (2011) 2
ISSN 1843–5610
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-ShareAlike