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Racist voters and minority candidates: a conceptual puzzle and an empirical challenge with a focus on the Swiss case

Applicant Stojanovic Nenad
Number 154983
Funding scheme Ambizione
Research institution Politikwissenschaftliches Seminar Kultur- und Sozialwissenschaftliche Fakultät Universität Luzern
Institution of higher education University of Lucerne - LU
Main discipline Political science
Start/End 01.04.2015 - 30.06.2018
Approved amount 477'527.00
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Keywords (6)

elections; discrimination; Switzerland; minority groups; democratic theory; racism

Lay Summary (Italian)

Lead
A cosa serve dire a un pesciolino: “Sei libero, ed è tuo diritto nuotare in questa piscina, ma guarda che vi troverai tanti pesci cani”? È un po’ come dire a un nero di essere libero, che partecipare come candidato a un’elezione sia un suo diritto democratico, lasciandolo poi presentarsi in una circoscrizione in cui la maggioranza degli elettori è bianca e razzista. Ciò costituisce un problema potenziale sia per la teoria della democrazia sia per l’esercizio dei diritti democratici. In Svizzera, il problema riguarda soprattutto i candidati dai nomi e cognomi con assonanze straniere.
Lay summary

Soggetto e obiettivo

Un principio chiave della democrazia è che ogni cittadino ha il diritto di voto. Ciò gli consente non solo di partecipare a votazioni ed elezioni in quanto elettore, ma anche di candidarsi per cariche elettive. Cosa succede però se questo diritto democratico formale viene di fatto annullato, perché buona parte degli elettori si rifiuta, magari sistematicamente, di votare per candidati aventi certe caratteristiche identitarie, e questo per motivi inammissibili dal punto di vista morale (razzismo, xenofobia, sessismo, ecc.)?

L’obiettivo di questo progetto è duplice. Primo: sul piano teorico, analizzare il concetto di discriminazione nella sfera elettorale, visto che è tutto fuorché evidente che si possa parlare di “discriminazione” in tale ambito. Secondo: sul piano empirico, elaborare un metodo per misurare, nel caso della Svizzera, l’impatto di discriminazioni elettorali sulle probabilità di successo dei candidati delle minoranze. Quest’ultimi sono definiti in base alla loro (reale o supposta) origine straniera, che l’elettore svizzero può indovinare leggendo semplicemente i loro nomi e cognomi. Saranno in particolare esaminate le elezioni federali del 2015.

 

Contesto socio-scientifico

Finora, nella teoria politica contemporanea, il concetto di discriminazione è stato utilizzato in svariati ambiti (mercato del lavoro, accesso agli studi, mercato dell’alloggio, ecc.), ma non nella sfera elettorale. Si tratterà quindi di capire se è possibile utilizzare questa nozione nella teoria della democrazia. Esistono invece – in paesi come la Francia, la Germania, il Regno Unito, o gli Stati Uniti – diversi studi empirici sulle prospettive elettorali di candidati provenienti da gruppi minoritari. Un’analisi del genere non è però ancora stata effettuata in Svizzera.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 23.03.2015

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Political marginalization of “Others” in consociational regimes
Stojanović Nenad (2018), Political marginalization of “Others” in consociational regimes, in Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Politikwissenschaft, 12(2), 341-364.
Electoral Discrimination Against Immigrant-Origin Candidates
Portmann Lea, Stojanović Nenad (2018), Electoral Discrimination Against Immigrant-Origin Candidates, in Political Behavior, 1-30.
Discrimination and politics
StojanovićNenad (2018), Discrimination and politics, in Lippert-Rasmussen Kasper (ed.), Routledge, London, 348-359.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Prof. Georg Lutz et Riccardo Primavesi (FORS & Université de Lausanne) Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
EUI Working Group Individual talk Ballot Cues and Electoral Discrimination: How Voters Assess Information About Candidates 20.02.2018 Firenze, Italy Portmann Lea;
Association suisse de science politique (congrès annuel) Talk given at a conference Who receives the negative preference votes? Discrimination against candidates of immigrant origin in the 2015 National Council elections in Switzerland 05.02.2018 Genève, Switzerland Portmann Lea; Stojanovic Nenad;
ECPR General Conference Talk given at a conference If voters use VAAs to select candidates, do they need to see the names of candidates? The Blind Election device for tackling electoral discrimination 06.09.2017 Oslo, Norway Stojanovic Nenad;
ECPR General Conference Talk given at a conference Electoral Discrimination of Immigrant-origin Candidates in the 2015 Swiss National Elections 06.09.2017 Oslo, Norway Portmann Lea;
Neuchatel Graduate Conference of Migration and Mobility Studies Talk given at a conference Who gets the negative preference votes? Discrimination of immigrant-origin candidates in the 2015 Swiss national elections 22.06.2017 Neuchâtel, Switzerland Portmann Lea; Stojanovic Nenad;
Midwest Political Science Association (75th Annual Conference) Talk given at a conference Horowitz and Lijphart in the Alps. The impact of the electoral system on cross-ethnic voting in two Swiss cantons 06.04.2017 Chicago, United States of America Stojanovic Nenad;
Association suisse de science politique (congrès annuel) Talk given at a conference Electoral discrimination and democratic theory: the Blind Election device 11.01.2017 St. Gallen, Switzerland Stojanovic Nenad;
Guest Talk (Université de Neuchâtel) Individual talk Discriminations électorales. Le cas des élections communales 2015 dans le canton de Zurich 29.11.2016 Neuchâtel, Switzerland Stojanovic Nenad; Portmann Lea;
GECOPOL Seminar Individual talk Tackling the Problem of Electoral Discrimination: The Blind Election Device 21.09.2016 Genève, Switzerland Stojanovic Nenad;
MANCEPT Workshops in Political Theory Talk given at a conference Electoral discrimination and the electoral system design: The Blind Election device 07.09.2016 Manchester, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Stojanovic Nenad;
International Political Science Association (World Congress) Talk given at a conference Are Candidates from Immigrant-Origin Minorities Discriminated by Voters? 24.07.2016 Poznan, Poland Stojanovic Nenad; Portmann Lea;
ECPR Joint Sessions Talk given at a conference Discrimination of immigrant-origin candidates by voters: Evidence from open-list PR elections in Switzerland 25.04.2016 Pisa, Italy Portmann Lea; Stojanovic Nenad;
Cultural diversity and liberal democracy Talk given at a conference Electoral discrimination and democratic theory 19.04.2016 Toronto, Canada Stojanovic Nenad;
Midwest Political Science Association (74th Annual Conference) Talk given at a conference Discrimination of immigrant-origin candidates by voters. Evidence from open-list PR elections in Switzerland 07.04.2016 Chicago, United States of America Portmann Lea; Stojanovic Nenad;
Midwest Political Science Association (74th Annual Conference) Talk given at a conference Racist voters and minority candidates: a problem for liberal democracy? 07.04.2016 Chicago, United States of America Stojanovic Nenad;
Guest Talk, Université d'Ottawa Individual talk Les candidat(e)s des groupes ethniques minoritaires faces aux discriminations électorales: un défi conceptuel et empirique 10.02.2016 Ottawa, Canada Stojanovic Nenad;
Princeton University (Graduate students lunch seminar) Individual talk Exploring the Concept of Electoral Discrimination 17.12.2015 Princeton, United States of America Stojanovic Nenad;
American Political Science Association (Annual Meeting) Talk given at a conference Democrasism 02.09.2015 San Francisco, United States of America Stojanovic Nenad;


Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Wozu und wie interdisziplinäre Diskriminierungsforschung in der Schweiz ? La recherche interdisciplinaire sur les discriminations en Suisse : pourquoi et comment ? Poster 03.11.2017 Bern, Switzerland


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: print media, online media Der lange Weg ins Parlament St. Galler Tagblatt German-speaking Switzerland 2018
Print (books, brochures, leaflets) Discriminazioni elettorali Italian-speaking Switzerland 2018
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Wahldiskriminierung von Kandidierenden mit Migrationshintergrund DeFacto German-speaking Switzerland 2018
Media relations: print media, online media Wenn das «-ic» den Wahlerfolg verhindert Neue Zürcher Zeitung German-speaking Switzerland 2018
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) “Nicht-Schweizer” Namen im Bundesrat: Die Wahl von Cassis oder Maudet wäre präzedenzlos DeFacto German-speaking Switzerland 2017
Media relations: print media, online media Mission: Migranten motivieren Aargauer Zeitung German-speaking Switzerland 2017
Media relations: print media, online media Fussball und Demokratie: Spiegel des Volkes Neue Zürcher Zeitung German-speaking Switzerland 2016
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Gli italofoni sono discriminati nelle elezioni del Consiglio federale? DeFacto Italian-speaking Switzerland 2015
Media relations: radio, television Politiker mit Migrationshintergrund werden zunehmen SRF 4 News German-speaking Switzerland 2015
Print (books, brochures, leaflets) When Racist Voters Discriminate Against Minority Candidates International 2015

Abstract

The aim of the present project is threefold. First, it will explore the theoretical aspects of electoral discrimination in order to come up with a normative and conceptual roadmap for tackling this phenomenon. It will postulate that, in principle, candidates have a moral right not to be discriminated against in an election and that voters have a moral duty to avoid morally objectionable stereotypes when voting. Second, the project will look at electoral systems that, at least in theory, are likely to reduce the impact of ED. Finally, I will present an empirical analysis of ED in Switzerland by focusing upon “minority candidates”, defined as candidates whose immigrant background can be deduced from their names. The aim of the empirical part is (a) is to have a general picture on the number of minority candidates who ran for elective office in Swiss elections and their respective electoral success, and (b) to see whether there is sufficient empirical evidence of ED in Switzerland. The last task will be accomplished by conducting an in-depth analysis of electoral ballots cast in selected municipalities/cantons. The originality of the project lies in the fact that (1) the concept of discrimination in the electoral process has not been sufficiently addressed so far in the contemporary political theory literature and (2) contrary to other liberal-democratic countries (e.g., France, Germany, Great Britain, the United States) there are hardly any empirical studies that have explored either minority representation as such, or the extent of ED in Switzerland.
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