Contained or represented? The varied consequences of reserved seats for emigrants in the legislatures of Ecuador and Colombia

Comparative Migration Studies. 2018;6(1):1-20 DOI 10.1186/s40878-018-0101-7


Journal Homepage

Journal Title: Comparative Migration Studies

ISSN: 2214-594X (Online)

Publisher: SpringerOpen

Society/Institution: IMISCOE (International Migration, Integration and Social Cohesion)

LCC Subject Category: Social Sciences: Communities. Classes. Races: Urban groups. The city. Urban sociology: City population. Including children in cities, immigration

Country of publisher: Netherlands

Language of fulltext: English

Full-text formats available: PDF, HTML



Pau Palop-García (GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies)


Double blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 13 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

Abstract The legislatures of Colombia and Ecuador have reserved seats for their non-resident citizens (emigrants). This paper analyses the relationship between the formal, descriptive, and substantive dimensions of emigrant representation in their homeland legislatures. The analysis compares the legislative work of emigrant MPs (EMPs) with the legislative work of non-emigrant MPs (NEMPs) in Ecuador and Colombia. It presents a mixed methods approach that combines a quantitative text analysis based on an original dataset –composed of 35,446 floor speeches– with in-depth interviews with six EMPs. The results show that emigrant-related issues are significantly more salient in the legislature of Ecuador and Colombia suggesting that the effect of emigrant-reserved seats is correlated to the size of the external district. Furthermore, the analysis reveals that EMPs have a ‘mixed agenda’ composed by emigrant and domestic-related issues. Finally, the article shows that the probability of classifying a speech as emigrant-related increases when it is given by an EMP and not a NEMP. This effect is stronger in Ecuador than in Colombia. All in all, the article shows evidence that configurations that allocate several EMPs are more efficient in achieving substantive representation.