Black or white? Who cares.

The recent Guardian article (thanks to Nosemonkey) on racial representation in the European Parliament got me thinking. Is it really such a problem that the huge majority of MEP's are white? Or (to put it differently) is it a problem that there are not more non-white MEP's?

Personally, I don't believe so and I find it curious why some people do. In my interpretation, representative democracy stands for views of the citizen being represented by an elected individual, regardless of that persons race, sex, sexuality, or religion. The fact is that non-whites are just as entitled to run for positions of power as any white citizen; the same entitlements that gay, jewish or female candidates have, for example.

It is intriguing why there is no data on the racial make-up of the European Parliament, but I would suggest that it is because there is no good reason to. How would such data be useful? Statistics on the colour of democratically elected representatives would prove nothing of citizens voting habits; it is their right to choose who to vote for and creating a parliament with a proportionate number of minorities or women or homosexuals to that of society is just plain silly.

Just because a parliament does not have a disabled minister, it does not mean that disabled citizens are not represented. Disabled citizens have concerns that transcend their physical abililty; who knows, maybe they even have the same concerns as an able-bodied citizen. To suggest that an elected representative is not able to represent the concerns of their disabled constituent because they do not have a disability themselves is simply insulting. And this example can be applied to any minority, again raising the question on what difference it would make to have data on such things.

And so, to that infamous rhetorical question 'what can be done about it?' Encouraging more minorities to become parliamentary candidates seems a sensible suggestion, although they should not expect their success to be determined by the colour of their skin.

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