Human Rights Review

, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 34–54 | Cite as

Does domestic politics limit the influence of external actors on ethnic politics?

  • Judith Kelley


Domestic politics is naturally important in ethnic policies. However, in spite of their potency, domestic political factors are not always the most decisive. International organizations have influenced the Latvian and Estonian governments, and at times the Slovak and Romanian governments. However, the ability of different organizational strategies to overcome domestic opposition and thus bring about their desired policy varies widely. In most cases, actors need to use conditionality and aim it at the appropriate decision makers. In spite of their widespread use, efforts that rely solely on persuasion and diplomacy tend only to work when the domestic opposition is initially quite low or when ethnic minorities themselves have some bargaining power in the government.

The key policy implication is that domestic factors do not make failure, or success for that matter, a foregone conclusion. For example, ethnic minority representation within the government coalition is not in itself a guarantee of passage of the policy preferences of the minorities. Conversely, the presence of authoritarian-style leadership does not automatically mean a rejection ethnic minority accommodation either, if organizations present their suggestions so that such leaders view it as being in their greater interests to maintain power. Conditionality that targets incentives to fit goals of the leadership can work. External actors are thus not justified in backing off from action based purely on a domestic analysis.


European Union Ethnic Minority Government Coalition European Union Membership Domestic Opposition 
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© Springer 2003

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  • Judith Kelley

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