Are Ethnic Minorities a Barrier to Democratization? A Comparative Study of Two Countries


Willy Jou Kaori Moriyama


     The presence of numerically significant ethnic minorities often presents a challenge to democratization, since political actors in transitional societies may engage in ethnic mobilization in the absence of deeply entrenched political cleavages. The present study compares the views of ethnic majority and minority groups on attitudes toward democracy, civic participation and institutional trust at the individual level. We select the cases of Malaysia and Moldova, two countries rated as ‘partly free’ by Freedom House, contain sizeable minorities, and have a history of violent ethnic clashes, and focus specifically on Chinese- and Russian-speaking minorities. Results of our empirical analysis do not show consistent trends on trust in state institutions and patterns of political participation, but reveal that minorities have a significantly less favourable view of non-democratic regime types. This implies that, rather than identifying the presence of significant minority populations as a hindrance to peaceful transitions, such minorities can play a supportive role in democratization.

Keywords: Ethnic Minority, Democratic Support


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Research Articles


How to Cite
JOU, Willy; MORIYAMA, Kaori. Are Ethnic Minorities a Barrier to Democratization? A Comparative Study of Two Countries. Journal of Community Development Research (Humanities and Social Sciences), [S.l.], v. 12, n. 1, p. 60-70, mar. 2019. ISSN 2539-5521. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 31 mar. 2020. doi: