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Party System Change and its Effects on Spanish Party Elite’s Descriptive Representation

Elites
Political Parties
Representation
Southern Europe
Juan Rodríguez Teruel
University of Valencia
Pablo Oñate
University of Valencia
Juan Rodríguez Teruel
University of Valencia

Abstract

Since Pitkin’s seminal work, descriptive representation is a fundamental approach to understand how representation operates among political elites and political parties. Several authors have shown that the evolution of descriptive representation fluctuates across countries but also across elite strata, and even depending on which social trait we are observing. In Southern European democracies, this lack of social representativeness was already strong in political parties and political elites form the beginning. However, party system changes produced by the financial crisis in the last decades have brought new parties to parliaments and governments, and this has paved the way for new individuals to enter public institutions. From this perspective, our Paper aims to check the evolution of social background among party elites over time, to observe to what extent the political changes experienced in the party system may have strengthen the elite representativeness, by bringing back some social groups to the summit of party organisations to the detriment of those traditionally overrepresented in the past. In particular, we will focus on the main social traits: age, gender, education and professional background. The analysis will employ data on party elites (defined as those members of the executive bodies of political parties) and parliamentary representatives, comparing two points in time (2000 and 2016) in order to check the existence of relevant changes. The analytical time comparative model will also control for the newness of parties (old/new), the territorial-based organisation type (state wide/non-state wide), the multi-level structure (national vs. regional party elites), public offices (those with public offices vs. those without such position). In some parties, we will include data for lower strata, coming from our original data from party delegates (from the MAPP project). The parties included in the study will be PSOE, PP, IU/Podemos, Ciudadanos, ERC and PNV.