At the Norwegian local elections in 2003, only 206 out of a total of 11 138 political representatives elected had ethnic minority background. 92 of them were non-Westerners. This equals 1 % of the representatives. Eight years later, in 2011, the number was 1,67 %. In comparison, 13 % of the country’s population has an ethnic minority background. About half of them have non-Western background. Why is the rate increasing so slowly, despite the fact that Norwegian political parties all stress the importance of integration of immigrants?
For the past few years, I have been working on questions concerning the political representation of ethnic minorities in Norwegian politics. I have interviewed political representatives with ethnic minority background, leaders and representatives from political parties. They all express the importance of having representatives with ethnic minority background. So why are they so few? And (this may come as a surprise to some of you) why are women overrepresented in leading positions?