This implies serious consequences which not only have the potential to deviate from the traditional definition of a liberal democratic nation-state, but has implications on how international law is interpreted and applied. In fact, the very premise of defining the nation-state as an â€˜ethnic democracyâ€™ imply a differentiation of rights which are ethnically based in favour of the majority.
The definition or the term may reflect reality, but in its very premise as an â€˜ethnic democracyâ€™ may violate the basis by which traditional views of democracy, international law and human rights are based.
In the case of
Smooha identifies liberal democracy and consociational democracy as the main variants of the democratic form. Liberal democracy is the prevalent form of democracy and is firmly established in places such as the
Smooha makes the argument that states which have a record of ethnic nationalism are practicing a diminished form of democracy based on favoring the ethnic majority of the nation-state. He cites countries in Central and Eastern Europe such as
Smooha characterizes some of its features in the following way:
“The ethnic nation, not the citizenry, shapes the symbols, laws and policies of the state for the benefit of the majority. This ideology makes a crucial distinction between members and non-members of the ethnic nation. Members of the ethnic nation may be divided into persons living in the homeland and persons living in the diaspora. Both are preferred to non-members who are â€˜othersâ€™, outsiders, less desirable persons, who cannot be full members of the society and the state. Citizenship is separate from the nationality, neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for membership in the ethnic nation, unlike the situation in the West where the idea of a civic nation is prevalent.”
Ethnic democracy may meet the minimal and procedural definitions of democracy but by taking the ethnic nation, rather than the citizenry, as the cornerstone of the state, â€œthe state privileges the majority and strives to advance its interests rather than to serve all its citizens equally. The minority cannot fully identify itself with the state, cannot be completely equal to the majority and cannot confer full legitimacy on the state.â€
Smooha identifies four factors conducive to the emergence of ethnic democracy:
1. The primary condition is the pre-existence of ethnic nationalism and the ethnic nation which influences the form of governance. 2. The existence of a threat to the ethnic nation which requires the mobilization of the nation-state to cope with internal and external threats. 3. The majorityâ€™s commitment to democracy, without which a non-democracy would emerge. 4. When the minority is either small or disorganized, the majority can opt for a workable ethnic democracy without renouncing its domination. Facing a very large or too strong a minority, the majority may choose ethnic non-democracy because it is too difficult to maintain democracy.
Conditions of stability for ethnic democracies include a clear numerical and political majority for the main ethnic grouping in the country. In