The Elections to Nonterritorial Autonomies of Central and South Eastern Europe
In managing ethno-cultural diversity, several countries in Central and Eastern Europe refer to the notion of nonterritorial/cultural autonomy in their legislation and policies, and in some of them, namely Croatia, Estonia, Hungary, Serbia, and Slovenia, registered minority voters are granted the right to create their own representational, consultative, or decision-making bodies by direct or indirect elections. While a growing body of literature has examined the functioning of these elected minority councils/self-governments at various levels, numerous features of their elections have not been addressed. Elections, commonly understood as formal group decision-making processes, may fulfill various functions both in theory and practice, and these are highly context-dependent. In this regard, little is known about the role played by minority elections in intra-community relations, and whether and how these elections can contribute to increasing legitimacy and accountability and strengthening the political weight and influence of the respective minority groups. This article seeks to address these issues. Written from a theoretical perspective, but based on electoral statistics and country experiences, it comparatively explores the main issues related to the special minority elections in the five countries of analysis and assesses whether they can be considered successful forms of diversity management.
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