Immigration and Political Participation

As industrialized societies become more diverse there is a growing need to understand how immigration is affecting democracy. The limited political rights recognized to immigrants by the nation-states raise key concerns about representation, legitimacy and accountability. Building on the distinction between descriptive representation (immigrant-origin deputies elected) and substantive representation (representation of immigrants’ interests), this research examines what factors influence immigrants’ political representation in European immigration democracies. The study relies on an original dataset, which contains data on individual MPs, parties, constituencies and parliamentary questions tabled in the 2007 French National Assembly, the 2005 German Bundestag and the 2005 British House of Commons. The study combines different methods such as descriptive statistics, logit models, correlations and negative binomial models. The results of this research can be summarized as follows:

  • Immigrants’ political incorporation and representation is affected by the
    combination of electoral and citizenship rules adopted in a given polity.
  • Parties’ political recruitment strategies affect immigrants’ descriptive
    representation. Across democracies, left-wing parties are more likely to nominate
    immigrant-origin deputies for winnable seats than right-wing parties.
  • The electoral fortunes of anti-immigration parties affect parties’ integration policy
    position. When anti-immigration parties gain electoral support, parties adopt
    more restrictive positions on integration.
  • Immigrant-origin deputies are more concerned by immigration-related issues than
    native deputies.
  • In single-member constituency systems, representatives are responsive to immigrant
    voters when these are geographically concentrated.

Download the full report: ELECDEM_WP01_Constanza Sanhueza Petrarca_ESR Final Report (PDF 4,018KB)

Further details of workpackage 1.

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