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13 JEMIE 1 (2014)

handle is hein.journals/jemie2014 and id is 1 raw text is: Journal on Ethnopolitics and Minority Issues in Europe
JEMIE Vol 13, No 1, 2014, 1-18
Copyright @ ECMI 2014
This article is located at:
Introduction - Minority Participation in Estonia and Latvia
Ada-Charlotte Regelmann*
Queen's University Belfast
High levels of active political participation are considered to be indicators of stable
democracies. Low levels of participation, in turn, are related to disaffection with the
political process and the political system more generally (Agarin, 2013; Pharr et al.,
2000). For individuals and groups, political participation has both a 'voice' and an
'identification' function: participants in democratic political processes have an
opportunity to make their interests and concerns heard, and where they are able to,
muster enough political power to influence the outcome of decision-making
processes; effective participation and the understanding that their views are valued in
society in turn is linked to enhanced feelings of belonging and identification of
citizens with the larger community. Disaffection and disengagement from the political
process have been explained as a result of non-responsive political institutions that-
persistently-do not reflect minority preferences. Where political systems are not
(perceived as) open and responsive, citizen and non-citizen residents who do not feel
that the system reflects their needs and demands tend to disengage and withdraw from
the political process (Offe, 2009).
Conversely, for democratic political institutions, the political involvement of
their populations offers the opportunity to 'learn' about citizens' needs and
preferences in order to improve government performance (Linz and Stepan, 1996); in
turn, inclusion into the polity also leads to higher levels of satisfaction, trust and
regime support, contributing to stability (Mishler and Rose, 2002). In ethnically-
divided societies political structures tend to favour the dominant group's access to
political agenda-setting and decision-making. This negatively affects the ability of
Visiting Research Fellow, Queen's University Belfast. Email: a.regelmann@qub.ac.uk.


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