Nomination of candidates of non-Western origin on party lists is a major step toward immigrant-origin minorities’ political representation, however its determinants are understudied. This paper focuses on such nominations by parties on the Left, Social Democratic and Green. We extend theory on the electoral risks of nominating immigrant-origin minority candidates to study systematically how cultural citizenship conditions the effects of political and economic factors on number of nominations. Belgium provides excellent testing grounds due to regional variation in cultural citizenship between Flanders and Wallonia, while electoral and citizenship acquisition laws remain constant. We collected an original dataset on 589 municipalities in the 2006 local elections, and conduct our analysis using Poisson regression models for count data that incorporate alternative explanations. Findings suggest that Social Democratic parties face greater political and economic constraints than Green parties and these constraints are conditioned by cultural citizenship; in Flanders where cultural citizenship is characterized by a strong ethnic component constraints are greater for Social Democratic than Green parties, but in civic Wallonia both parties do not appear constrained by these factors. Finally, we control for the conditioning effect of cultural citizenship for parties of the right, Christian Democratic and Liberal; we find no such effect.
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In this study we use minorities of immigrant-origin/background and non-Western (immigrant) origin or minority individuals interchangeably; these terms refer to (a) legal resident immigrants and (b) Belgian citizens with an immigrant background originating from Turkey, Africa (including Morocco and Congo), and Asia (including Pakistan and India). The main non-Western immigrant groups in Belgium are Turkish, Moroccan, and to a lesser extent Congolese. When we discuss various studies in the literature we employ the specific term used in each study (for instance, ethnic minority or individuals of foreign origin, etc.)
In 2006, 12.1% of its population was foreign born, and 67.01% of this population was from EU member states, 9.0% from Morocco, 4.4% from Turkey, and 19.6% from all other countries (National Institute of Statistics, Belgium 2006).
Foreign residents have voting rights (but are not eligible to stand as candidates) at the local level, not the regional or federal levels. Citizens of EU states have had the right to vote in local elections and also stand as candidates since 2000.
In Brussels-Capital the Socialist Party nominated 74 minority candidates out of a total of 447 or 16.55%; the respective figures for Ecolo nominations are 57 out of a total of 627 or 9.09%.
In Brussels-Capital the CDH nominated 50 minority candidates out of a total of 352 or 14.2%; the respective figures for the Liberal Party nominations (VLD and MR) are 31 out of a total of 423 or 7.3%.
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We would like to thank the AP editor and anonymous reviewers for their thoroughness and useful suggestions. For helpful feedback on earlier versions we thank panel and workshop participants at MPSA and ECPR conferences, and Empirical Studies in Political Analysis workshop. Also, we thank Regis Trannoy and Caroline Van Steenbergen of Institutions et Population, Service Elections, and Cecile Cuypers of Statistique et information economic for generous assistance with our inquiries on data collection and election procedures.
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Ecevit, Y.A., Kinsey, B.S. Minority candidates on party lists: evidence from Belgium. Acta Polit 57, 341–376 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41269-020-00193-1