Models of representation, Mobilization and Turnout: The Election of the Foreign Citizens' Council of the Province of Bologna



The Foreign Citizens' Council of the Province of Bologna is a consultative, elected body that the Province has implemented to give representation to the non-EU population, given the absence of local voting rights for these migrants in Italy. This work analyses the models of political representation implicit in the electoral rules of the council and in the organization of the main competing lists in the election, and, through the analysis of electoral data and 32 in-depth interviews with the candidates, the effect the different models had. While the vote seems to have been mostly intra-national, cross-national lists were the most successful. The different levels of turnout among the electorate suggest that the vote was based on mobilization rather than on trust in the political system, and that the analyses that link associational density with electoral participation pose some theoretical and methodological problems in this field.

Policy Implications

  • Migrants' participation policy is always based on implicit political models of participation that should always be made explicit and examined before implementation.
  • There is always a plurality of political preferences for different models of participation in the migrant population, that should be explored and accommodated.
  • The number of associations in existence should not be used as an indicator of a strong civil society as largely as it is presently.