Political Integration of Natives, Minorities and Immigrants
||2006-10-01 -- 2010-09-30
||Malmö Institute for Studies of Migration, Diversity and Welfare
Like in most “old” settler societies like Canada and the US, the number of immigrants in Europe has increased dramatically. It is widely held that both political representation and voter turnout among immigrants and ethnic minorities is lower than among native born. Both representation and participation are core responsibilities in the electoral process in democratic societies. One way to activate non-citizens politically is by allowing legally non-citizens to vote in local and regional elections like for example in some European countries such as the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden. But in most European countries this responsibility is restricted to citizens. Another way of dealing with this “democratic deficit” is like in Canada to increase political representation in parties and various governments and the number of and voters by having a low threshold for acquisition of citizenship by immigrants.
This research project aims at a better understanding of the political representation and participation of immigrants and ethnic minorities relative to natives and focus on the selected EU countries of Sweden, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom in comparison to Canada. The selection of these countries is partly based on the different political- and economic systems, immigration histories and data availability in these four countries. Whereas the political systems are more likewise between UK/Canada and the Netherlands/Sweden, the migration histories for the Netherlands/UK are more alike. In economic respect the Netherlands/Sweden and UK/Canada are more comparable. Moreover a major advantage is that for all these countries quantitative data on representation and voting participation by immigrants and ethnic minorities is available. For Sweden and the Netherlands it is also possible to study the representation and participation of non-nationals.
The two fundamental questions of this research project are:
1. to study both the individual as well as structural factors explaining the differences in political representation in local, provincial and national government between natives and various groups of immigrants/ethnic minorities in the four earlier mentioned countries,
2. to study both individual as well as structural factors explaining the differences in voting participation in local, provincial and national elections between natives and various groups of immigrants/ethnic minorities.
On the individual level the study will focus on the age, gender, family characteristics, socio-economic position like educational level and economic integration, language acquisition, length of stay, citizenship acquisition and country of birth/Ethnicity. At the structural level the study will focus on the importance of national migration, integration and in particular citizenship policies related towards the immigrant population/ethnic minorities affecting the political representation and political participation.
Finally, this research will address the question if it is possible to device policies, migration, integration and citizenship, at the national level and EU level that could enhance a larger political representation and participation of immigrants and ethnic minorities and achieve how democratic “ownership” for these groups could develop in the EU.