First Advisor

Melody E. Valdini

Date of Publication

Summer 8-7-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Political Science


Political Science


Political participation, Indigenous peoples -- Colombia -- Politics and government -- Case studies, Indigenous peoples -- New Zealand -- Politics and government -- Case studies, Indigenous peoples -- Taiwan -- Politics and government -- Case studies, Government accountability, Autonomy (Philosophy)



Physical Description

1 online resource (vii, 85 pages)


More than twenty legislatures reserve a portion of seats for ethnic minority groups, often in an attempt to prevent violent conflict and redress historical oppression. The intention of reserved seats coincides with indigenous group objectives--to achieve political representation while maintaining autonomy. Yet the formation and electoral success of indigenous parties does not always follow adoption of a reserved seat system. I explain this inconsistency by taking reserved seats as a necessary but insufficient condition of indigenous party formation, and arguing that two additional conditions must be met to motivate indigenous groups to form a viable party: the failure of the existing party system to respond to group interests and the failure of grievance resolution mechanisms to fairly adjudicate disputes between indigenous groups and the state. I compare this model of indigenous party formation to three case studies--Colombia, New Zealand, and Taiwan--each with a reserved seat system for indigenous peoples but nonetheless exhibiting different levels of indigenous party formation and success. This research makes three significant contributions: it explores how indigenous groups strategically balance autonomy and participation; it suggests reconsidering how indigenous party formation and reserved seats are conceptualized by rational choice approaches; and it points to new ways of thinking about how elites can manipulate reserved seats to cultivate state legitimacy and enforce minority group assimilation.

Persistent Identifier