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Chandra: Why ethnic parties succeed

Disclaimer. Don't rely on these old notes in lieu of reading the literature, but they can jog your memory. As a grad student long ago, my peers and I collaborated to write and exchange summaries of political science research. I posted them to a wiki-style website. "Wikisum" is now dead but archived here. I cannot vouch for these notes' accuracy, nor can I say who wrote them.

Chandra. 2004. Why ethnic parties succeed. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.

The Model

  1. People are motivated by either material or "psychic" (e.g. esteem needs, a la Horowitz) goods, or a combination.
  2. People are instrumentally rational; they vote for the party that will maximize these goods, not just to express an ethnicity.
  3. An ethnic group's elites (urban, educated, better off) desire state employment or political office as the best prospect of material advancement (this theory applies to clientelistic democracies).
    • This requires that they be close to a political patron.
  4. Voters in patronage democracies have information constraints that lead voters and politicians to favor co-ethnics.
    • Voters: Will support any party that puts elites from their ethnic group in power. Count heads; whichever party has the most elites from your ethnic group is the one that you (sincerely) prefer.
    • Elites: Parties with internally competitive advancement do better at attracting an ethnic group's elites. [seems a strange assumption. If it's an ethnic party, does it need to keep attracting elites once it has them?]
  5. Voters are strategic. They use elite head counts (4a, above) to form sincere preferences, then use headcounts of their co-ethnic voters to adjust these preferences according to strategic voting.

Research on similar subjects


Chandra, Kanchan (author)American PoliticsEthnic ConflictVotingEthnicity

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