Navigating Minority Inclusion & Permanent Division: Minorities & the Depoliticization of Ethnic Diff
Jus Politicum 607-627 (January 2017)
Ensuring the appropriateness of the majority principle in electoral systems for the accommodation and enfranchisement of political minorities is a crucial endeavour, especially in societies characterized by cleavages such as race/ethnicity, religion, language, etc. Majoritarianism tend to overlook the need to accommodate political minorities who risk being permanently disenfranchised when their voting choices persistently do not produce the outcomes they desire or that, as candidates, they may not receive the sufficient amount of support to be elected. Such political imbalances are particularly acute in societies where identity-based cleavages are a factor, even a main factor, influencing political choices. This article examines one modification of a simple plurality system to include ethnic minority candidates in the elected chamber. The Group Representation Constituency, which has been implemented in Singapore since 1988, designates certain constituencies as group constituencies where candidates contest as a team. It is aimed at ensuring ethnic minority representation in Parliament as there has to be at least one minority candidate in each team. Using this scheme as the primary case study, I examine some ways in which minority inclusion systems can navigate the dilemma of ensuring political inclusion while not entrenching identitarian distinctions.