Is a high concentration of immigrant-origin minorities enough for immigrant-origin minorities to gain political representation? Or are certain migrant groups more likely to benefit from certain political opportunities that facilitate their access to elected office when their number is large? This paper analyses how these three factors — residential concentration, ethnicity, and political opportunities — interact to help to account for the different levels of representation of immigrant-origin minorities at the local level, and it illustrates the theoretical underpinnings with an examination of the Spanish case.
The paper studies over time — for the 2003, 2007 and 2011 local elections — the Spanish municipalities with the largest concentration of immigrant-origin residents of different ethnic backgrounds — Romanians, Moroccans, Bulgarians and Latin Americans — and examines how residential concentration, ethnicity and party competition interact to lead to better or worse outcomes of descriptive political representation of these groups. Spain is an ideal case study to test these theoretical propositions regarding migrants’ political representation, particularly since the rapid increase of the foreign-born population has resulted in a diverse intake of multiple origin groups with different patterns of residential concentration, yielding a sufficient number of places where a single group of different national origins dominates among the foreign-born.