AbstractsPolitical Science

Constituents at the Gate: European Political Parties and the Representation of Migration-Background Communities

by Colin Brown

Institution: Harvard University
Degree: PhD
Year: 2015
Keywords: Political Science, General
Record ID: 2058996
Full text PDF: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:14226048


This dissertation looks at migrant-background voters in Germany and the Netherlands to explain variations in descriptive representation in these two countries, and to find mechanisms which may explain the broad variations in descriptive representation seen throughout Europe. Open-list, preferential voting systems are examined and shown to provide methods by which migrant-background voters are able to coordinate on candidates from their origin group, increasing their success as candidates being elected to local and national legislatures. Additionally, the effect that initial successful candidates may have on later candidates from the same group is explored. These effects are first examined in this dissertation by comparing across candidates within the Dutch parliamentary elections of 2012, validating earlier survey results suggesting that members of one's own ethnic community can be a strong source of support for migrant-background candidates. Second, a comparison of city councils in Germany operating under different voting rules demonstrates find a significant, independent connection between the presence of preferential voting rules and the representation of immigrant minorities. A final comparison of candidates in two German cities before and after cumulative voting was implemented finds further connections between preferential voting and greater migrant representation, but also shows a number of potential confounding factors, such as the degree to which immigrant groups are formally organized, and finds political parties to be important mediators of these candidates' success.