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Democracy By Elite Co-Optation: Democratic Elitism In Multi-Ethnic States

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Chapter Summary

This chapter argues that where elections are the major form of interest aggregation, democratic elitism enables elites to control political participation by ethnic minorities. More specifically, democratic elitism facilitates the cooptation of minority leaders better than other, more participatory forms of democracy. Contrary to many expectations and the desire of nationalists in the Baltic countries to repatriate their Russian residents after 1991, most Russians stayed. The political marginalization of Russian minorities became a hot issue in the mid-1990s when Estonia and Latvia commenced negotiations for membership in the EU and NATO. Schumpeter's competitive theory of democracy diverges considerably from Dahl's more normative conception of a democracy that is open to all social and ethnic groups. Robert Dahl's theory of polyarchy can be regarded as a normative but also empirically based confrontation with democratic elitism because it emphasizes how and why liberal democracies are established and broadened by popular political participation.

Keywords: Baltic countries; democratic elitism; Estonia; Latvia; Robert Dahl; Russian; Schumpeter



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