Liberal Nation States and the Antinomies of Minority Representation: The Impact on the Republic of Turkey

  • Ephraim NimniEmail author
Part of the Comparative Territorial Politics book series (COMPTPOL)


The aim of the opening chapter is to conceptually map the contradictions of minority representation that afflict liberal democracies. The principle of “one person one vote” creates a paradoxical inconsistency when attempting to empower ethnic or national minorities. On the one hand, democratic systems are defined as a level plain and open to all participants to have a say and influence in the managing of the body politics. On the other, national and ethnic minorities are open to having a say but are precluded from influencing because of their condition of numerical minorities. While this situation might impact another type of minorities, in the contemporary world, it represents a daunting challenge to the integrity of the nation state. This is because of the expanding power of collective identities and because nation states, liberal democratic or otherwise, are construed to empower the nation of the state to the relative disadvantage of other cultural communities. Human rights theories have recently under the influence of the struggles of indigenous peoples, have veered from an exclusively individual understanding of human rights towards a more collective form of group rights that in general advocate the rights of distinct groups to maintain a distinct identity. When these collective rights are demanded in contemporary states, they often lead to serious conflicts of representation if the democratic and liberal body politic is not able to accommodate the representation of minority groups. Concisely, this has been the engine that motives contemporary secessionist movements, leading very bitter and often bloody struggles in different parts of the world. The Turkish Republic, a post-imperial state, is also disturbed by these conflicts which have the capacity to seriously undermine the democratic character of the state. The aim of this introductory chapter is evaluating what new mechanisms of minority representation have emerged, and how could these help the incorporation of national minorities to the Turkish Republic, and avoid the danger bloody struggles for secession.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for the Study of Ethnic ConflictsQueen’s University BelfastBelfastUK

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