Library Header Image
LSE Research Online LSE Library Services

Extremist outbidding in ethnic party systems is not inevitable: tribune parties in Northern Ireland

Mitchell, Paul, Evans, Geoffrey and O'Leary, Brendan (2006) Extremist outbidding in ethnic party systems is not inevitable: tribune parties in Northern Ireland. PSPE working papers (06-2006). Department of Government, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

Download (387kB) | Preview


Ethnic out-bidding models correctly suggest that democratic stability is much more difficult to achieve in divided societies with fully mobilised ethnic party systems. But they are not correct when they predict that ethnic party systems inevitably lead to perpetual extremist outbidding leading to inevitable democratic collapse. We argue that the incentives of powersharing institutions combined with Downsian vote-seeking motivations can encourage the development of electoral strategies based on ‘ethnic tribune appeals’, where parties combine robust ethnic identity representation with increased pragmatism over political resource allocation. We test these arguments in Northern Ireland and show that though evidence of direct vote-switching from moderate parties to ostensibly ‘extreme’ parties is prima facie consistent with the outbidding thesis, attitudinal convergence between the nationalist and unionist communities on the main political issues is not. The recent success of the DUP and Sinn Féin can instead be explained by these parties’ increased moderation in combination with their ‘tribune’ appeals.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2006 The Authors
Divisions: Government
Public Policy Group
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
Date Deposited: 14 Oct 2009 14:15
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2023 23:05

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics