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Berlin, Germany

Berlin: Testing Diversity in City Councils

July 27, 2011

Do our democratic institutions reflect the increasing diversity of our society?

Do our democratic institutions reflect the increasing diversity of our society?  An important indicator of whether equality and integration have been achieved is the degree to which diversity is represented in political decision-making.

Today’s cities provide the perfect laboratory for testing the idea that local governments, in theory anyway, are representative of the communities they serve.

In German cities, where up to a third of the population may have an immigrant background, the contrast between a diverse society and councils that are still mostly homogeneous can be striking.

So German researchers at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity – in co-operation with the Heinrich Böll Foundation and with the support of the Mercator Foundation – decided it was time to put theory to the test . They have recently conducted the first comprehensive analysis of German city councils to assess the level of immigrant representation (meaning “individuals with a migration background”) in 77 German cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants.

Results of the study were presented in Berlin on 29 June 2011. A longer publication will be available in autumn 2011.

The slides of that presentation and an abstract of the study can be found here.

For a summary article, see: Diversity on City Councils? Shortcomings Abound. (June 28, 2011)




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