Comparative European Politics

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 249–278 | Cite as

Ethnic heterogeneity and party system size: A district-level analysis

  • Ekaterina R Rashkova
Original Article


It has been theoretically and empirically shown that ideological diversity complements the effect of institutions on the development of party systems and the number of political parties that ensue. Thus, students of party and electoral systems now commonly employ ethnic fractionalization as an indicator of ideological differences; however, there is no unilaterally agreed upon data set that scholars use. In addition, extant data sets measure heterogeneity at the national level, rather than at the district level, where electoral competition takes place and where both institutional and social factors matter most. Using a multi-level empirical analysis, this article illustrates the interactive effect of the two main district characteristics – magnitude and heterogeneity – on the number of parties. It demonstrates the analytical benefit of using district-level characteristics in explaining party system size and aims to reduce the data gap by providing a district-level ethnic heterogeneity data set for 18 European states.


party system size district-level analysis ethnic heterogeneity index Europe 



The author thanks Dimiter Toshkov and three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and critiques, as well as Scott Morgenstern for his incessant support throughout the way. The financial support of the European Research Council (ERC_Stg07_205660) is also gratefully acknowledged. All errors remain mine.


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ekaterina R Rashkova
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen, Instituut Politieke Wetenschap, Leiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands

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