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The Determinants of the Descriptive Representation of Citizens of Immigrant Origin in Belgium

Parliaments
Political Parties
Representation
Immigration
Chloé Janssen
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Chloé Janssen
Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Abstract

Throughout the existing literature on the descriptive representation of minorities, women are most often the subjects of analysis. Much less literature is developed around the representation of ethnic minorities, despite their ever growing presence both on the citizen and the elite side. Following this, researchers are not sure whether the same conclusions drawn from the descriptive representation of women apply to ethnic minorities. This paper seeks to provide additional insights into the descriptive representation of citizens of immigrant origin (CIOs), and this particularly relating to the Belgian case. Overall, this paper is interested in the factors that contribute to the descriptive representation of CIOs in the Parliament. First, this paper explores and describes such dynamics applied to the Belgian case, throughout the period 1991-2010. Subsequently, I formulate three hypotheses at three analytical levels. First, I argue the enlargement of district magnitude has a positive, albeit limited, impact on the descriptive representation of CIOs (H1). Second, the centralization and inclusiveness of candidate nomination mechanisms have a positive impact on the descriptive representation of CIOs (H2). Third, controlling for individual characteristics of MPs, political variables like seniority contribute positively to descriptive representation dynamics of CIOs (H3). In a final stage, I compare the explanatory strength of these analytical levels so as to provide preliminary conclusions regarding the validity of each of them. For this analysis, I use data collected from the Pathways project and I apply both uni- and multivariate statistics to support my analysis.