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Ethnic voting in Brussels: Voting patterns among ethnic minorities in Brussels (Belgium) during the 2006 local elections

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In recent years immigrant origin ethnic minorities have become a non-negligible electoral group in Belgian cities. Numerous studies have been undertaken in Belgium on the link between immigrant associational life and political participation and on the profiles of politicians of immigrant origin, but not yet on party choice and voting patterns among ethnic minority groups. In this article, we present the first analysis of voting patterns of ethnic minority groups in Belgium, making use of exit poll data on the local elections for three municipalities of the Brussels Capital Region. We investigate whether non-EU immigrant origin voters have a particular party preference which cannot be explained by other background variables such as educational level or socio-economic position. We also look into the issue of preferential voting for candidates of immigrant origin. According to the theory on political opportunity structures, one would expect a lesser importance of ethnic voting in the Belgian context (in which ethnic mobilisation is discursively discouraged). Ethnic voting, however, turns out to be quite important in the Brussels’ context.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Institut de Sociologie – METICES – ULB, CP 124, 44 Avenue Jeanne, 1050 Bruxelles, Belgium 2: CEVIPOL, Department of Political Sciences, ULB

Publication date: 2010-09-01

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