Key research findings about the political representation of citizens of immigrant origin (IO) in European national parliaments was announced at an event in central London on Monday 15 February.
The findings, announced at an event organised by Professor Laura Morales from the University of Leicester’s Department of Politics and International Relations in collaboration with the Political Studies Association, from the ‘Pathways to Power’ project, which studies the political representation of IO MPs in the United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain.
The study has revealed that over the past decades, ethnic diversity within European societies has increased radically and immigration is one of the most important challenges facing Europe today.
The study covers the period from 1990 to the most recent complete national legislatures and will also include data on the most recent legislative terms of regional assemblies in the eight countries.
Among the key findings of the research establish that the Netherlands and the United Kingdom lead in the presence of citizens of immigrant origin in national parliaments across the eight European countries studied. It has also revealed that South European countries fare worst in the inclusion of citizens of immigrant origin in the national legislature. IO MPs are more likely to be women in Belgium and Spain but the gender pattern is balanced or variable in the other countries and noticeably younger in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. IO MPs tend to be elected as candidates of left-wing or centre-left parties more often than of centre-right or right-wing parties, but this is not the case in South European countries and tend to have gained less political experience in their parties’ structure or in subnational elected office before they win their seat in national parliament.
For the years studied so far, IO MPs tend to be underrepresented in key positions of party and committee leadership, although this may be a temporary effect resulting from their generally lower levels of parliamentary experience in some countries
The project ‘Pathways to Power: The Political Representation of Citizens of Immigrant Origin in Eight European Democracies’ is an international collaborative and comparative project led by four universities: the University of Leicester (United Kingdom), the University of Amsterdam (Netherlands), the University of Bamberg (Germany), and SciencesPo (France).