Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Diversity in Spanish Politics? Dynamics of Descriptive Representation of Immigrant‐Origin Minorities in Local Elections

Full Text   PDF (free download)
Views: 950 | Downloads: 874

Abstract:  Research has identified an alarming gap in migrants’ descriptive representation across Western European countries with long-standing immigration while showing that not all migrant groups are equally (un)successful in gaining elected office. However, little is known about migrants’ political presence in Southern European countries, which have experienced increased immigration in recent decades. We address this research gap for Spain by focusing on the municipal level where minorities’ inclusion remains of utmost importance. Conceptually, the article tackles the question of how the interplay between migrants’ demographic concentration and specific party features shapes the outcomes of minority descriptive representation. Empirically, we bring novel evidence from an original survey with local party organizations across municipalities returning high shares of Romanian, Moroccan, Latin American, and EU14 migrants. We first demonstrate that, despite being particularly sizeable, all groups remain under-represented in Spanish local politics, although with important differences. At comparable levels of demographic concentration, EU14 and Latin American migrants are almost three times more likely than Romanian migrants and up to seven times more likely than Moroccan migrants to be fielded as candidates. EU14 candidates are also more successful in securing office. Second, our findings confirm that party features shape the contours of minority inclusion: Spanish left-wing and new parties present more diverse local candidacies and place minority office-seekers in safer electoral list positions than right-wing and established parties.

Keywords:  candidates; councilors; descriptive political representation; immigration; local elections; minority inclusion; Spain


Supplementary Files:


© Daniela Vintila, Santiago Pérez-Nievas, Marta Paradés, Carles Pamies. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.