Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Selective Inclusion? Insights Into Political Parties' Recruitment of Immigrant Background Candidates in Bolzano

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Abstract:  Political parties can be crucial gatekeepers to the political participation of immigrants. This article analyzes the political selection strategies of political parties at the local level. The case study focuses on the multi-ethnic city of Bolzano in Northern Italy, which is home to a significant migrant population as well as three autochthonous language groups: Italian, German, and Ladin. First, the article gives an overview of the political lists presented at the last local elections in 2020. Second, it discusses party strategies to recruit candidates with an immigration background. The presented insights are drawn from seven “elite” interviews (i.e., with high-ranking party representatives). Overall, the findings indicate that diversity stemming from migration does not have a significant impact on the recruitment strategies of the province’s political parties’: Despite electoral lists containing an increasing number of immigrants, who have migrated to South Tyrol since the 1990s, neither newer nor traditional parties adopt significant strategies to recruit candidates with an immigration background. Overall, the diversity on political lists mostly reflects the existing language cleavages of the autochthonous population, while diversity stemming from immigration is still largely overlooked. However, the results also show that while neither of the parties is fully inclusive or exclusive in their selection methods, we identify a tendency toward selective inclusiveness of certain immigrant groups.

Keywords:  diversity; immigrants; immigrant background; local elections; political parties; political recruitment; selective inclusiveness



© Giorgia Zogu, Sophia Schönthaler. 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.