Strategic inclusion? The promises and pitfalls of diversity initiatives in Swedish party politics

Time period: 2020-01-01 to 2022-12-31

Project leader: Pär Zetterberg

Funder: Forte

Type of award: Unclassified

Total fundning: 4 800 000 SEK

Political decision-making has traditionally been an activity dominated by white, middle-aged men of majority ethnic background. During the last decades, the widespread introduction of electoral gender quotas has challenged this male dominance, as women have made unprecedented advances in politics. Gender quotas, however, only address one source of inequality. As a consequence, some Swedish political parties have moved further. In addition to reserving half the places on candidate lists for women they are adopting quotas also for ethnic minorities and young people.This project aims to study the impact of these multiple electoral quotas on descriptive, substantive, and symbolic representation. While descriptive representation refers to the visibility of these underrepresented groups in political assemblies (and thus their numerical representation), their inclusion may also lead to more equitable policy processes, furthering substantive representation. Moreover, their presence may be seen as symbolic representation, facilitating integration by signaling to citizens that prestigious political positions are not out of reach for these politically marginalized groups.Theoretically, the project aims to explore the intersectionality of privilege. Previous research suggests that multiple quotas are often implemented by combining marginalized identities in one and the same candidate. This would imply that the privileged positions of established politicians (mainly majority-men) are not challenged by the introduction of multiple quotas. Empirically, the project makes use of rich register data with complete information about political candidates. This data allows us to assess the potential effect of multiple quota implementation on processes of political representation. Exploiting these attributes, this project promises to significantly contribute to our understanding of how marginalization and privilege interact under multiple-quota regimes, shaping exclusion and inclusion.