The political representation of ethnic minorities in the Netherlands: ethnic minority candidates and the role of party characteristics

  • Roos van der ZwanEmail author
  • Marcel Lubbers
  • Rob Eisinga
Original Article


This article examines the extent to which political parties affect the descriptive representation of both Western and non-Western ethnic minority groups on the candidate lists of political parties in the Netherlands. It systematically tests the role of policy positions of Dutch parties, their ethnic minority support, and candidate selection methods. As list position is related to electoral success, we study the nomination of ethnic minority candidates as well as their position on the candidate list. Using ethnic background data of all candidates for the Dutch parliamentary elections in 2012, we find that minorities of Turkish and Moroccan origin are not underrepresented, and that descriptive representation is below parity for Western minorities. We observe neither effect from parties’ ethnic support on ethnic representation, nor do we find any relation between party selection procedure and ethnic minority representation. The position of parties on immigration issues, however, is shown to be important. The results indicate that parties with more restrictive positions on integration and migration not only nominate fewer ethnic minority candidates, they also place non-Western ethnic minority candidates in lower list positions than parties who are less restrictive towards migration and integration.


Political party candidate lists Ethnic minorities Political representation The Netherlands 



The authors want to thank Roos Geurts and Tara Koster for their help with the data collection. An earlier version of this article was presented at the ECPR Joint Sessions in Pisa (2016).


This work was supported by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (Grant Number 618106); and the 15 New Opportunities for Research Funding Agency Cooperation in Europe (NORFACE) partners under the programme Welfare State Futures, project MIFARE.

Supplementary material

41269_2018_85_MOESM1_ESM.docx (34 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 33 kb)


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roos van der Zwan
    • 1
    Email author
  • Marcel Lubbers
    • 1
  • Rob Eisinga
    • 1
  1. 1.Sociology DepartmentRadboud University NijmegenNijmegenThe Netherlands

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