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Category:Political parties of minorities
There are two main categories of autonomist parties: the territorialist-autonomist ('regionalist', 'separatist') parties aim at the self-determination, in various shades, of a territory the ethnic parties aim to represent an ethnic group in a political system, be it a sovereign state or a subnational entity.
The oldest prototypes of ethnic parties are the Jewish parties of the Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires and the Swedish party in Finland, Svenska Folkpartiet (SFP), all of them born in the end of the XIXth century or in the first decenniae of the XXth.
Some parties can add both distinctions in differing contexts, the most obvious example being federalized Belgium.
Francophone Belgian parties in the municipalities of the Flemish Brabant Province and all Belgian parties in the 19 municipalities of the Brussels Region are ethnic parties, while they're territorialist in their own respective federalized region.
As a matter of fact, as there are no more centralized ('federal') party (except for some tiny extreme-left or extreme-right ones) nor electoral competition between Francophone and Flemish parties either in Wallonia or in Flanders, with the exception of the province of Flemish Brabant, one can consider that there are several distinct party systems in Belgium, thus making it irrealistic to go on using the 'autonomist party' label either in Wallonia or in Flanders.
The Volksunie (nationalist democrats) is no longer an 'autonomist party' but a would-be libertarian-liberal party in the same way as D66 in The Netherlands, while the Vlaams Blok is the Flemish counterpart of the Front National in France.
All Francophone parties have German-speaking autonomous branches in the German-speaking Region, where there is also a specific 'Party of the German-speaking Belgians'.
The future evolution of the Belgian party systems is as yet difficult to predict, but it seems likely that the connection betwen the Brussels branches of the Francophone and Flemish parties and their already autonomous branches in Flanders and Wallonia will be either totally severed or, like in Quebec with the provincial Parti Quebecois and federal Bloc Quebecois, that there will be a disconnection between regional parties and federal parties. This process is already at work in the Brussels Region, both at the local and regional level, where several parties join forces on common lists, either Flemish or 'bilingual' (which is only possible at the local level because of the communalized regional electoral system).
Ethnic parties and ideological options
There are degrees in the revendicatioon of autonomy, there are also ideological options totally opposite among autonomist parties, be they territorialist or ethnic. For instance between Zionist parties (themselves divided into Revisionist, General or Poalist/Labourist parties), Agudat Israel (Orthodox religious party), Bund (marxist) and Folkpartay (interclass), all parties competing for Jewish votes in interwar Poland. Common lists or electoral agreements can be organized either between ethnic parties or between two parties having common ideological options beyond ethnic differences, as the Bund and the 'Polish' socialist party PPS for the municipal elections in 1939.
It can however occur that a single 'supra-ideological' party aims, with varying shades of success, at the representation of a whole ethnic group, as for the SFP in Finland, the South Schleswig Voters Federation (SSW, Danes and Frisians) in the German Land of Schleswig Holstein or the Democratic Front of the Francophones (FDF) in the Belgian Brussels Region in the nineteen seventies.
In some political systems, party politics are exclusively based on ethnicity, as in Bosnia-Herzegovina and its federal regions, in Israel, in Surinam or in Guyana. The most extreme case is Fiji, where there are separate electoral colleges for each ethnic group, as there was in pre-Israel Palestine Jewish Assembly, with separate 'curiae' for Ashkenaz, Sepharad and Oriental, and Yemeni Jews, or in present-day New Zealand for the Maoris.
As a consequence, it would be somewhat irrelevant to classify some parties in these systems as 'ideological' (social-democrat, liberal, christian-democrat etc.) and some others as 'autonomist' or 'ethnic' or 'minority' parties. The SFP is a full-fledged member of the Liberal International, the South Tyrol People's Party SVP (grouping German- and Ladin-speaking inhabitants of Italian Alto Adige province) is a member of the Christian Democratic International, both the Belgian (Flemish) SP and (Francophone) PS are members of the Socialist International.
Ethnic parties and electoral systems
In most cases, ethnic parties compete inside electoral systems where voters aren't compelled to vote according to ethnic affiliations and may vote too for 'non ethnic', 'transethnic' or 'supraethnic' ideological parties. In most Near Eastern Arab countries, the only such parties were the Communist parties, whose founding fathers and subsequent leaders came mostly from the Jewish, Armenian, Kurdish or Shi'ia minorities. The socialist movement in Thessaloniki (present Northern Greece) during the last decenniae of the Ottoman Empire was divided across ethnic lines between the Sephardi Jews (who formed the majority of the population), the Bulgarian and Macedonian Slavs and the Greeks, but all groups united when it came to FPTP elections.
In interwar Poland, Jewish, German and Ukrainian parties never attracted all Polish Jews, Germans and Ukrainians of whom some were members of 'national' ideological Polish parties, mostly the Socialist and Communist parties, more open-minded than some conservative or 'progressive' nationalist parties who sometimes expressed violently antisemitic positions.
Some ethnic parties are only taking part into substatal electoral competition, thus making them somewhat invisible to outside observers: the SSW in Schleswig-Holstein, the German parties in Denmark and Poland, the Roma parties in Slovakia.
There is also a specifically diasporic type of political parties that could be labelled as 'intraethnic parties', i.e. parties that compete only inside the ethnic group political sphere. The Jewish (mostly Zionist) and Armenian parties belong to this category, as well as the abroad sections of national parties, such as the (U.S.) Republicans Abroad, the (British) Labour Party International, the (French) Parti Socialiste's Federation des Francais de l'Etranger or the American and European branches of the Israeli Likud and of the Taiwanese Kuomintang Nationalist party. There can also be specifically diasporic political groupings, such as the Association Democratique des Francais de l'Etranger (left-wing) and the Union des Francais de l'Etranger (right-wing), both competing for seats in the Conseil Superieur des Francais de l'Etranger, or the various political lists competing for the Comitati degli Italiani all'Estero (COMITES).
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