Skip to main content

Immigrant Access to Local Politics in Amsterdam and Paris

Abstract

This contribution investigates immigrants’ access to elected office in two different political contexts: Amsterdam and Paris. I look at the socio-demographic background and at the political experiences of immigrant councillors and explore what may have favoured their careers. I further consider the role of the electoral and political context in facilitating immigrants’ access to politics. This context plays an important role in immigrants’ rate of access to politics, but similarities exist in their pre-electoral experience.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Notes

  1. I would like to thank Irene Bloemraad, Karen Schönwälder and the anonymous reviewer for their comments on an earlier version of this contribution.

  2. By immigrants, I mean people born in a foreign country or who have at least one parent born abroad. People born in Dutch colonies are also included in this category.

  3. A comparison of the presence of immigrant politicians in the French and Dutch parliaments is interesting, but would be significantly limited by the fact that (since 2007) only four of the 555 MPs elected in metropolitan France are of non-Western origin (Keslassy, 2009).

  4. District councillors in Amsterdam are members of the ‘stadsdeelraden’ in Paris this concerns the members of the ‘conseils d’arrondissement’.

  5. The data was collected in Paris between March–June 2007 and June–July 2008, and in Amsterdam in January–May 2008. Information on the representatives was used only when cross-checked.

  6. Those holding a seat in the city council are elected at the level of the districts: they are both district councillor and city councillor.

  7. In addition, the incumbent mayor in Paris was almost certain to win the election and therefore had a large room for manoeuvre in the composition of the lists of the Socialist Party and its allies.

  8. Data on the development of political careers of immigrants, elected in 1990 in Amsterdam, shows otherwise (Michon, 2011a: 104), but this might have changed since then.

  9. Those holding a seat in the city council are elected at the level of the districts: they are both district councillor and city councillor.

  10. Only figures for country of birth, that is, first-generation immigrants are available in France.

  11. It is noteworthy that immigrants from European countries are present at much higher rates than in Amsterdam, where their presence is marginal.

  12. This sample is not representative of the population of immigrant representatives with respect to the share of those elected to the Conseil de Paris and with respect to party membership; it is, however, with respect to gender, origins and incumbency rate.

References

  • Bécet, J.-M. (2001) ‘The Role of the Commune’, in La Documentation française (ed.) Local Government in France, Paris: La Documentation française, pp. 99–109.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bloemraad, I. (2013) ‘Accessing the corridors of power: Enduring puzzles and future pathways to understanding cross-national differences in minority representation’, West European Politics 36 (3).

  • Bousetta, H. (2001) ‘Immigration, post-immigration politics and the political mobilisation of ethnic minorities: A comparative case-study of Moroccans in four European cities’, PhD dissertation, Brussels: IPSoM.

  • Cadat, B.-Y. and Fennema, M. (1998) ‘Les hommes politiques issus de l’immigration à Amsterdam: Image de soi, image des autres’, Revue Européenne des Migrations Internationales 14 (2): 97–121.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Eldersveld, S.J. (1998) ‘Party change and continuity in Amsterdam: An empirical study of local organization adaptation’, Party Politics 4 (3): 319–346.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Eldersveld, S.J., Strömberg, L. and Derksen, W. (1995) Local Elites in Western Democracies: A Comparative Analysis of Urban Political Leaders in the U.S., Sweden, and The Netherlands, Boulder: Westview Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Farrell, D. (2001) Electoral Systems: A Comparative Introduction, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  • FORUM. (2010) ‘Etnische diversiteit binnen de bevolking’, in FORUM Factsheet, Utrecht: FORUM.

  • Garbaye, R. (2005) Getting Into Local Power: The Politics of Ethnic Minorities in British and French Cities, Malden: Blackwell.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Geisser, V. and Soum, E.Y. (2008) Discriminer pour mieux régner: Enquête sur la diversité dans les partis politiques, Paris: Les Editions de l’Atelier/ Editions ouvrières.

    Google Scholar 

  • Groenendijk, K., van Heelsum, A., Michon, L. and Tillie, J. (2010) ‘Participación política en los Países Bajos’, in D. Moya Malapeira and A. Viñas Ferrer (eds.) Sufragio y participación política de los extranjeros extracomunitarios en Europa, Barcelona: Fundacio Carles Pi i Sunyer, pp. 109–152.

    Google Scholar 

  • Guionnet, C. (2002) ‘Entrées de femmes en politique, L’irréductibilité du genre à l’heure de la parité’, Politix 15 (60): 113–146.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hazan, R.V. (2002) ‘Candidate Selection’, in L. LeDuc, R.G. Niemi and P. Norris (eds.) Comparing Democracies 2: New Challenges in the Study of Elections and Voting, London: Sage, pp. 108–126.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ireland, P. (1994) The Policy Challenge of Ethnic Diversity: Immigrant Politics in France and Switzerland, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Keslassy, E. (2009) Ouvrir la politique à la diversité, Paris: Institut Montaigne.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lagroye, J., François, B. and Sawicki, F. (2002) Sociologie politique, 4e edition, Paris: Presses de Sciences Po/Dalloz.

    Google Scholar 

  • Michon, L. (2011a) ‘Ethnic minorities in local politics: Comparing Amsterdam and Paris’, PhD dissertation, University of Amsterdam.

  • Michon, L. (2011b) ‘Ethnicity and gender in local politics: Comparing Amsterdam and Paris’, Paper Presented at the Conference Etmaal 2011, Amsterdam, 9–10 June.

  • Norris, P. (1997) ‘Introduction: Theories of Recruitment’, in P. Norris (ed.) Passages to Power: Legislative Recruitment in Advanced Democracies, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 1–14.

    Google Scholar 

  • Putnam, R.D. (1976) The Comparative Study of Political Elites, Englewood-Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.

    Google Scholar 

  • Van der Heijden, T. and van Heelsum, A. (2010) Opkomst en stemgedrag van migranten tijdens gemeenteraadsverkiezingen van 3 maart 2010, Amsterdam: IMES.

    Google Scholar 

Web references

  • Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek (Dutch Statistics Bureau) www.cbs.nl.

  • INSEE Ile-de-France (French Statistics Bureau, region of Paris) www.insee.fr/idf.

  • Onderzoek en Statistiek Amsterdam (Amsterdam Statistics Bureau) www.os.amsterdam.nl.

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

michon, l. Immigrant Access to Local Politics in Amsterdam and Paris. Eur Polit Sci 12, 490–499 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1057/eps.2013.18

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/eps.2013.18

Keywords

  • immigrant political participation
  • local politics
  • Amsterdam
  • Paris
  • Netherlands
  • France
  • local councillors