The paper examines determinants of electoral entry and success of ethnic minority parties in central and eastern Europe. The application of a hierarchical selection model shows that the strategic entry of minority parties depends on their expected electoral success due both to observed and unobserved factors. Drawing on formal models of electoral entry, the electoral success of new (or niche) parties is expected to be influenced by the costs of entry (determined by electoral thresholds) and the potential for electoral support. The latter depends on the reactions of political competitors and electoral demand, measured here as the size of ethnic groups and the saliency of ethnic issues. In line with these expectations, parties only run if they can expect electoral support sufficient to pass the electoral threshold. This finding would have been overlooked by a naïve model of electoral success which does not take self-selection into account.