Identities in politics: Ethnic/racial minoritized citizensโ€™ collective assessments of political representation

Judith de Jong, University of Amsterdam

Abstract

European polities are increasingly diverse in terms of the ethnicity/race and religion of their citizens. Whereas ethnic/racial minority citizens were (and sometimes are) regarded as โ€˜immigrantsโ€™, they increasingly take up an active role in politics and assert their rights to political equality. Political enfranchisement of ethnic/racial minorities in Western European parliaments is often understood in terms of descriptive characteristics (Ahrens et al. 2018; Celis and Mรผgge 2018): if only enough French Maghrebian MPs would have a seat in the French parliament, for instance, the political representation of French-Maghrebi citizens would be improved. 83,5% of racial/ethnic minorities across Europe do indicate that they would be better represented by an MP who โ€˜looks like themโ€™ (Huddleston and Dag Tjaden 2012). But in Western European countries where such descriptive representation exists, ethnic/racial minority citizens report feeling โ€˜misrepresentedโ€™ by MPs who share the same ethnic/religious background (Akachar 2018), suggesting that citizensโ€™ social identities matter politically in differing and complex ways. This research project takes a bottom-up approach to this puzzle by asking ethnic/racial minoritized citizens themselves how and by whom they feel represented in Western European national parliaments. How do their migration backgrounds and other social identities matter politically? And how do they actually assess ethnic/racial minority MPs?