Diversity in Political Parties’ Strategies: Descriptive representation beyond gender in Portugal and Spain
IX Congresso da Associação Portuguesa de Ciência Política
The inclusion of traditionally under-represented groups in the decision-making process has been encouraged at several levels, including the European institutional level. Similarly, some academic scholarship has been suggesting that the composition of parliaments might have an impact on the policies approved and that assuring the physical presence of traditionally under-represented groups might be important for guaranteeing a better representation of those groups. Until now, research on descriptive representation – understood as the compositional similarity between representatives and the represented – has either focused on gender or on ethnicity. We propose a broader look at the concept of descriptive representation that also considers other social groups that have traditionally been absent from political decisions, namely LGBTI, people with disabilities and migrants (along with women and ethnic minorities). The chapter uses an original biographical dataset of Portuguese and Spanish MPs for three legislative terms since 1995. It aims at understanding whether or not parties’ different strategies to promote gender equality in politics result in a) more inclusive strategies overall concerning both representation claims and the mobilisation of minority groups and b) more equilibrated descriptive compositions of parliamentary groups.