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The Political Inclusion of Pakistanis in British and French municipalities: A comparison of Oldham, Villiers le-Bel and Creil

Sonia Awan
p. 111-133

Résumé

This article shall aim to probe the political inclusion of the Pakistani diasporas in France and in Great Britain. Over the recent years, diminishing voter turnouts in both countries have drawn renewed attention to the issues of the political participation and representation of minorities in mainstream political institutions, thus fuelling debates around the position occupied by women and other minorities in these same institutions. The Franco-British comparison serves to put these debates into perspective, and the study of Pakistanis on both sides of the English Channel reveals that British Pakistanis are well represented in the British political arena, notably at the local level, however their Pakistani counterparts in France are much less visible in French politics, even at the local level. While this differential presence in the respective political arenas appears to be correlated to contrasting migration histories and context-specific demographics (for instance, the British Pakistani population is much larger in size compared to Pakistanis in France), it is also embedded in the prevailing local political contexts. The study of one British city, Oldham, and two French suburban cities, Villiers-le-bel and Creil, serves to illustrate this perspective. Furthermore, it is already well established in the field of migration studies that in Western European countries and cities, candidates from minority backgrounds tend to face more obstacles – compared to traditional, ‘white’ candidates – whenever they stand elections. Looking closely at the political trajectories of various candidates in the cities under study, we set out to identify the impediments that they face first as candidates, then as elected representatives, or councillors. Hence, the aim of this research article is to demonstrate that some inherently discriminatory processes and exclusionary practices enable local political institutions to decelerate and hinder the political inclusion of minority candidates at the local level, blocking their path in a way that they can be kept off these same local bodies. Nonetheless, our research seems to suggest that the British political arena is far more receptive and inclusive for minorities, compared to the French political arena

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Introduction

1Ethnic minority politics have drawn considerable academic attention over the past few decades. Numerous British, French, and British Pakistani scholars – Parveen Akhtar, Richard Gale, Romain Garbaye, Antony Heath, Virinder Kalra, Didier Lapeyronnie, Anthony Messina, Shamit Sagar, Therese O’Toole – have studied the political participation and representation of ethnic minority populations in the United Kingdom and Europe, including France. In this context, British Pakistanis have extensively been studied as voters, candidates, and elected representatives, while French Pakistanis have failed to draw comparable scholarly attention.

  • 1 Romain, Garbaye. Getting into Local Power: The Politics of Ethnic Minorities in British and French (...)

2Romain Garbaye wrote in 2005 that while ‘immigrant populations have morphed into well-settled ethnic minorities’ with shared ‘interest in agendas of struggle against racial discrimination and for the recognition of cultural and religious differences in various policy areas’, Western political institutions such as trade unions, elected assemblies, and political parties have continued to ‘refuse access to (these) minority individuals and (their) interests’.1

3With this in mind, this article analyses the local politics of Pakistanis in Oldham (UK) and Pakistanis in Villiers-le-Bel and Creil (France) to see how the different form and nature of local political systems impacted the political inclusion of minorities. We shall probe the political engagement of Pakistanis in Great Britain and France with an emphasis on opportunities and constraints at the local level.

4Of course, all evidence suggests that this contrast is at least in part correlated with the contrasting histories of migration of Pakistanis, their demography and socio-economic positions on the two sides of the Channel – in particular, the populations of Pakistani origin are much more numerous in Britain than in France. But we shall also seek to highlight additional factors for the contrasting patterns of political exclusion and inclusion, focused on the patterns of municipal politics in the two countries. We shall illustrate this perspective by focusing on the cases of Oldham, in Britain, and Villiers-le-Bel and Creil, in France.

  • 2 Ibid.

5Local bodies offer differential access to the local political arena, and ‘cities are at the forefront of attempts by ethnic minority populations to participate in urban politics’.2 But while city councils and municipalities are expected to reflect diversity and heterogeneity, the practices of the same local bodies make the objective of representation sometimes difficult to achieve and as a result, several forms and levels of participation and representation can be observed amongst minority populations. Of the various scenarios observed, three will be analysed and documented in this article, building largely on empirical evidence and first-hand accounts.

  • 3 Here I borrow the expression employed by Romain Garbaye in Getting into Local Power (2005).

6In the British context, the politics of Pakistanis in Oldham are evidence that when minority populations are given access to the local polity, they take an active interest in politics, and are able to select and elect their representatives. In the French context, two contrasting scenarios can be witnessed. At one end of the spectrum, the local politics of Pakistanis in Villiers-le-Bel show that when local minority populations feel marginal and insignificant in local politics, and when they are ‘kept off local bodies’3, they tend to become politically indifferent, focusing instead on social promotion through economic inclusion. At the other end of the spectrum, the case of local politics in Creil demonstrates that when local minority populations are offered incentives, along with the possibility to select and elect their candidate, they will avail the opportunity to participate in local politics, behaving almost like their Pakistani counterparts in Oldham.

  • 4 Garbaye, 2005.

7As this paper aims to probe ‘the conditions in which ethnic minority candidates can be elected on city councils’ and municipalities, it also investigates ‘why and how ethnic minority candidates are kept off local bodies’.4 The real-life experiences of Pakistani candidates in Great Britain and France serve to illuminate the inherently discriminatory processes and practices that minority candidates often come across.

Contrasting patterns of migration, demography and socio-economic status in the Britain and France

8British and French Pakistani Diasporas differ in size and nature, and these particularities must be accounted for before undertaking a comparison of British and French politics, especially at the local level and with regards to the representation of minorities.

  • 5 Throughout this article, the term British Pakistani is used to denote British citizens of Pakistani (...)
  • 6 Office for National Statistics. “Population of the UK by country of birth and nationality: Individu (...)
  • 7 Ibid.
  • 8 In the absence of French official statistics, the statistics used here are those obtained from the (...)

9On the British side, we have access to detailed and precise ethnic statistics which give a fair idea of the Pakistani population settled in Great Britain.5 According to the March 2021 Census, the current population of England and Wales combined was 59.6 million, reflecting an increase of 6.3% compared to the 2011 Census.6 Furthermore, according to the same census, 1.81 million Pakistani nationals were residing in the United Kingdom (mostly in England) in 2021.7 Pakistanis therefore represent approximately 3% of the total population, the second largest ethnic group in the United Kingdom. In comparison, the total population of France is approximately 67.39 million, and its 100 000 Pakistanis (or French citizens of Pakistani origin) account for much less than 1 % of that population.8

10Another interesting aspect is the peculiar migration history on both sides of the English Channel. Pakistani migrations to Great Britain were largely post-colonial and as a result, the inclusion of these minority populations took place against the backdrop of a racialised colonial past. These migrations began in the late 1940s – in the context of the 1948 British Nationality Act – and persisted up to 1971, after which year they continued mostly as family re-unification.

  • 9 BBC One (n.d). Our Untold Stories.
  • 10 Ibid.
  • 11 Alisson, Shaw. Kinship and Continuity. Brunel UP. 1988
  • 12 Clair, Wills. Lovers and Strangers. Penguin Books. 2017

11Initially, the bulk of these populations originated from rural areas such as Mirpur (Azad Kashmir) and Sylhet (Bengal), and later from the more urban, mainland Punjab (West Pakistan). In 1951, there were only 5,000 Pakistani primary migrants, and by 1961, the number had risen to 25,000 primary migrants.9 Only five years later (in 1966), there were almost 120,000 Pakistanis in Britain, including secondary migrants.10 Especially between 1960 and 1962, thousands of Pakistanis migrated to Britain apprehending restrictive legislation.11 Secondary migration skyrocketed within 5 years of the implementation of the 1962 Act, and the number of voucher holders entering Britain upped by almost 1,800%.12 Consequently, chain and mass migration are terms often associated with these large migratory flows.

12In comparison, Pakistani migrations to France began only in the early 1970s and from the vantage point of today, a dozen Pakistanis can be identified as the pioneers. These primary migrants were often urban, educated single men, who decided to try their luck in mainland Europe, especially France and Germany, when Great Britain introduced anti-immigration legislation in 1971. In the French scenario, there was no mass migration while chain migration took place on quite a limited scale.

13These variegated elements of comparison suggest that British and French Pakistanis cannot be expected to hold equal political sway in the respective host societies, and given the small size of the Pakistani community in France, their underrepresentation in elected offices is not an anomaly per se. However, their limited visibility in local politics is rather troubling when pitted against the high level of educational attainment and socio-cultural inclusion at the second-generation level.

  • 13 Parveen, Akhtar. “The Political Success of the British Pakistani Diaspora” in Rashid, Amjad (ed.) T (...)

14 If British Pakistani scholars – and notably, Parveen Akhtar – can proudly boast of the political success of British Pakistanis13, the irony is that if French Pakistanis have failed to make headway in politics, they have also failed to become bus conductors- that is to say, they have tended to reach varying levels of socio-economic inclusion in French society and have quite often managed to enter successful careers. This is not to say that there is necessarily a correlation between political mobilization and the low socio-economic status of the bulk of Pakistani-origin populations in Britain, as examples such as those of London’s mayor Sadiq Khan or, crucially, that of many local elected councillors in British cities may seem to suggest. Instead, our purpose here is simply highlight the contrasts between the patterns of political inclusion and exclusion of the Pakistani diaspora in the two countries.

Contrasting pathways to political inclusion

  • 14 Herein, the term British Pakistanis is being employed to refer to British citizens of Pakistani anc (...)
  • 15 The nomenclature French Pakistani refers to French citizens of Pakistani origin, those who are citi (...)

15Pakistanis in Great Britain and France have followed different political pathways and achieved variable inclusion in host country politics. British Pakistanis14 have reached a higher level of political inclusion compared to French Pakistanis15. Pakistanis in France encountered inherent barriers in French electoral politics, and, regarding the second generation, the issue at stake is underrepresentation in local bodies.

  • 16 Ibid.

16Today, second-generation British Pakistanis have climbed the political ladder and have even reached Westminster. In part, this is because, in Great Britain, the political inclusion of BME (Black & Minority Ethnic) candidates was entrenched in a ‘symbolic and steady process’ in the 1980s and the 1990s, and many British municipalities were increasingly mindful to project themselves as inclusive, modern, and open to diversity, and this context became favourable for the inclusion of minorities.16

  • 17 Elise, Uberoi and Richard, Tunicliffe. “Ethnic diversity in politics and public life”. House of Com (...)
  • 18 Ibid.
  • 19 Ibid.

17According to recent statistics, the British Parliament has 65 MPs (10%) of ethnic minority background at present and since 2010, this number has continued to rise.17 Of these 65 MPs, 41 are Labour, 22 are Conservative and 2 are Liberal Democrats whereas more than half (37) of these 65 MPs are women.18 Comparably, and since October 2021, the House of Lords has 52 Lord Peers of ethnic minority background.19 Some famous MPs of British Asian background are Rishi Sunak, Priti Patel, Alok Sharma, Sajid Javid and Naz Shah.

  • 20 Garbaye, 2005.

18However, the process that facilitated the political inclusion of ethnic minorities in Great Britain does not seem to have been replicated in France, something that considerably delayed the political inclusion of minority populations here. Nonetheless, this is not to deny that both countries present broad and numerous parallels in terms of their immigration history and the size of their immigrant populations, and while there are some cross-national differences, their overall trajectories have been quite similar.20

19Thus, the study of local variations within France and Great Britain, compounded by the attitude of local bodies to diversity, shows how these relatively autonomous polities facilitate or hinder the incorporation of minorities at different points in time. A comparison of Oldham, Villiers-le-bel, and Creil offers precious insight into this issue by probing the efforts made by British city councils and French municipalities when it comes to the political inclusion of minority background candidates in the local body.

Oldham, Villiers-le-Bel, and Creil

20Oldham, Villiers-le-Bel, and Creil are culturally diverse suburban cities with a relatively high percentage of minority populations. The three of them have visible and well-settled Pakistani communities dating back to the 1970s and 1980s. To compare local politics, we must first look at demographics and socio-economic characteristics. In particular, it must be mentioned that the localities and populations under study vary significantly, with Oldham being larger than either Villers-le-Bel or Creil, and having a large Pakistani diaspora than either, thus reflecting the national trends highlighted earlier.

  • 21 “How the population changed in Oldham: Census 2021”. British Office of National Statistics. Census (...)
  • 22 Ibid.
  • 23 ‘‘Oldham in Profile – April 2019’’. Published by the Oldham Council. Downloaded from https://www.ol (...)
  • 24 Ibid.

21As per the 2021 census, Oldham’s population is 242,100 compared to the 2011 figure of 224,900.21 Between 2011 and 2021, there has been an overall increase of 7.6%, which is higher than the national average of 6.6%.22 Oldham has an ethnic composition of 77.5% “whites”, 10% Pakistani, 7.3% Bangladeshi, and 5.1% “others”, according to the typology used by the British Office of National Statistics.23 The town’s Pakistani population is also large, growing, and relatively young, with high birth rates and an increasing life expectancy.24

  • 25 “England’s most deprived areas named as Jaywick and Blackpool”. BBC News. 26 Sept, 2019. URL https: (...)
  • 26 Ibid.
  • 27 ‘‘Oldham in Profile – April 2019’’. p 8.

22Up to 2016, Oldham was also England’s most deprived town but today, the nearby coastal towns of Jaywick and Blackpool hold that position.25 Overall, the north of England still features more than 90% of deprived neighbourhoods.26 In the aftermath of the 2001 riots, Oldham showed improvement in some indexes of deprivation, but the town still has pockets of highly deprived neighbourhoods like Werneth, St Mary’s, Coldhurst, and Alexandra with predominantly South Asian populations (Pakistani, Bangladeshi).27

  • 28 Ibid. p 17.
  • 29 Ibid. p 19-20.
  • 30 Ibid.
  • 31 Ibid.
  • 32 Ibid.

23The Oldham Council and the NHS are the largest public employers in the town (10.7% and 9.3% respectively).28 Oldham has an employment rate of 68.4%, which is slightly lower than that of Greater Manchester (70.1%) and of the national average (74.1%).29 Employment rates in younger people stand at 78.5% for the 25-34 group and 75.1% for the 35-49 group.30 Younger Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are active in the labour market, but mostly in low-wage, temporary jobs. Statistics show that while employment rates amongst Oldham’s Pakistanis have improved gradually, more Pakistani women have also entered the labour market over the past years.31 Additionally, the employment gap between white workers (slightly over 70%) and Pakistani workers (slightly under 70%) seems to have diminished as well.32

  • 33 ‘‘Villiers-le-bel en quelques chiffres’’. Ville de Villiers-le-bel. 2018
  • 34 Ibid.
  • 35 Ibid.
  • 36 Ibid.

24Compared to Oldham, the French suburban city of Villiers-le-Bel is much smaller with a total population of 28,041 residents distributed across 9,561 taxpayer households.33 Its poverty ratio stands at 35%, with youth unemployment hovering around 20.7%.34 The city has a large, growing young population which stands at 3,229 for the 0-14 years and 3,211 for the 15-29 age group.35 The population begins to decline in the median age groups (30-44 & 45-59) and continues to fall in the older age groups.36

  • 37 Marjorie, Lenhardt. “En 30 ans, la population immigrée a doublé dans le Val d’Oise”. Le Parisien. 2 (...)
  • 38 Ibid.
  • 39 Ibid.

25Villiers-le-bel is also one of the many cities in the Val d’Oise region where the low-income immigrant population has doubled over the past thirty years.37 With the gentrification of the capital and the surrounding middle-class localities, there is a rising concentration of new immigrants in the suburbs to the north of the capital, where accommodation is cheap and substandard.38 Villiers-le-bel along with five other cities – Cergy, Sarcelles, Garges-les-Gonesses, Argenteuil, and Gonesses – has absorbed 40% of the newcomers over the past thirty years, equivalent to 46,000 immigrants.39 The gentrification of the capital is thus accompanied by a continued empoverishment of the suburbs.

  • 40 “Dossier Complet”. Ville de Creil. INSEE. 2018.
  • 41 Ibid.
  • 42 Ibid.
  • 43 Ibid.
  • 44 Ibid.
  • 45 Ibid.

26Creil is another city where Pakistanis are concentrated and have taken roots over time. In 2018, it had a population of 35,000 residents, and more recent estimates suggest this to have passed the 37,000 bar.40 Creil is more densely populated than Villiers-le-bel, with around 12,000 households of which 8,000 are couples with young children.41 The average annual income is below 15,000 euros per annum, and only 37% of the city’s households are subject to income tax.42 Of a total of 22,000 residents in the 15-64 age bracket, 65% are employed and the remaining 35% include students, older citizens, and housewives.43 The overall unemployment stands at 9.80% which reflects the national average of 10.90%.44 The city has a growing population of young people with more than 8,000 children in the 0-14 group and as many in the 15-29 age group.45 The general characteristics of Creil compare quite well with those seen for Oldham and Villiers-le-bel.

27Henceforth, a comparison of the politics of Pakistanis in Oldham (Great Britain) and Pakistanis in France (Villiers-le-bel and Creil) should give us more insight into the mechanisms of political incorporation of minorities in these local bodies, and also into the discriminatory practices that sometimes delay the process of inclusion.

Politicking all the way up: The Politics of Pakistanis in Oldham

28The political success of British Pakistanis is definitely correlated to their active political participation. The representation of ethnic minorities has been on the rise for several decades, and many British Asians have made durable careers in British national politics. Altogether, the list of South Asian elected councillors and politicians is a long one, compared to France.

29British Pakistanis are now well included in mainstream British politics, and this is largely due to the combination of certain factors specific to British society, its political system, and the evolution of British politics in the last decades.

30For instance, in this context, we may take the example of Sajid Javid, a Conservative politician who served as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care from June 2021 to July 2022.46 Born in Rochdale in 1969, he was the son of a bus conductor and, famously, his father Abdul Ghani is known to have migrated to Britain with a 1£ note in his pocket.47

31Alternatively, the case of the MP Naseem Shah (also known as Naz Shah) is another interesting example of the political ascension of British Pakistani politicians. Ms. Shah defeated the Respect party’s George Galloway in 2019 and became MP for the Bradford constituency.48 As a Labour politician, she served first as Shadow Minister for Community Cohesion and then as Shadow Minister for Equalities up to 2020.49 These examples show that over time, Britain’s minorities were gradually included in British mainstream politics.

  • 50 Akhtar, 2015.
  • 51 As Punjab Governor, Chaudhry Sarwar also strongly supported voting rights for overseas Pakistanis a (...)
  • 52 Ibid.

32Other British Pakistani politicians like Chaudhry Sarwar were even able to launch simultaneous careers in British and Pakistani politics.50 51Many of these politicians – especially from working-class backgrounds – would never have made it into politics had they stayed in their homeland.52

33In countless ways, the British political arena was far more open to immigrant populations than the French one, and the significance of the overtures and openings provided by British electoral politics must not be underestimated.

34However, despite its relatively open and inclusive nature, the British political system has had its own intricacies. Certainly, it has been easy for many minority citizens to vote even in the absence of any prior political experience – many had full citizenship rights upon settlement in the country, and postal ballots made voting easier – but it would be simplistic to assume that local parties facilitated the election of brown-minority-Muslim candidates over more “traditional” candidates of strictly British origins.

  • 53 Saggar, Shamit. Race and Political Representation: Electoral Politics and Ethnic Pluralism. Manches (...)

35Over the last decades, Labour has been encouraging these minority communities to vote for them, promising to do something in return.53 However, Labour’s lasting contribution is that it made these populations increasingly aware of their political sway and political participation gave them a taste of British electoral politics, thus accelerating their political inclusion.

  • 54 MJ, Le Lohé. “Participation in Elections by Asians in Bradford”, in Ivor, Crewe (ed.), Race and Bri (...)

36Just like many other northern English cities such as Bradford, Oldham was one of those places where the Labour Party and local Asian communities solicited one another spontaneously.54 From the early years, Pakistanis systematically offered support to Labour, a party whose stance on immigration was relatively sympathetic to them. Despite their lack of political grooming, relatively low literacy levels, and the linguistic barrier, Pakistanis in Oldham participated actively in local politics.

  • 55 ─, “Oldham’s first Asian Mayor”. Manchester Evening News. 21 Aug 2007.

37Oldham’s first South-Asian councillor was elected only in 1993, after almost two decades of political activism. In 1993, councillor Abdul Jabbar became Oldham’s first BME councilor, and in 2004, its first Asian mayor.55 Contrary to the assumption that a BME community can select and elect their candidate just-like-that, ground realities show a contrasting picture. The community’s support was certainly vital in electing the candidate since it garnered a numeric advantage, but the candidate had to undergo a long process of preparation.

  • 56 Garbaye, 2005.

38As Romain Garbaye points out, "Whether of Asian or black descent, these councillors have been active in local politics or local community work before their election, and owe their election to activism and political struggle, often against competing interests in their own party”.56 Indeed, long before he became councillor, Abdul Jabbar was involved in associative and community welfare work in the Coldhurst ward, and had a master’s degree in housing when he first joined the council. At the time, he had all the attributes of an ideal candidate (Labour, Muslim, South Asian) which is why the community facilitated his election.

  • 57 Parveen, Akhtar. The Paradox of Patronage Politics: Biraderi, representation and political particip (...)

39The role of biraderi (kinship networks) has been discussed at length by Parveen Akhtar, who coined the term ‘politicking’ for the control exerted by biraderi elders on the community in electoral politics and the political participation of the community.57 It is with the biraderi elders that Labour’s agents corresponded. The status of the elders and the ignorance of the newcomers became a boon for Labour who quickly realised they had to keep the elders in the fold. Essentially, Labour recognised the political weight of the community and the influence the elders had on it. The formula was simple: in the biraderi, the political weight of the members did not just add up, it multiplied.

  • 58 Eleanor Hill. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know: What are the implications of networks in U (...)
  • 59 Ibid.
  • 60 J. Nielsen (ed.). Muslims and Political Participation in Europe. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP. 2013.

40According to Eleanor Hill, “the welfare function of the biraderi is particularly important when the state is unable or unwilling to provide adequate support, in these instances the biraderi can step in and offer support to members”.58 She adds that biraderis helped members of the Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities to participate in elections by providing information about when, where and how to vote”.59 There were compromises and collusions, overt and covert understandings between Labour and the biraderi elders.60 Somehow, political participation initiated through and by the biraderi enabled Oldham’s Pakistanis to reach out to the local council and lobby for their specific demands such as halal meat in canteens, Muslim burial facilities, etc.

  • 61 Eleanor Hill. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know: What are the implications of networks in U (...)

41In the matter of selection and election, the case of councilor Jabbar demonstrates that it is only once he had excellent credentials that the biraderi ‘acted as a social and political network that gave the candidate access to resources they did not have on their own’.61 The biraderi did not select, support, and elect him because he was a member of the community, instead the biraderi made sure the candidate stood his ground.

  • 62 Awan, 2020.

42Overall, the political inclusion of Oldham’s Pakistanis was facilitated by immediate citizenship rights, multicultural policies, recognition as ethnic and religious minorities, Labour’s early interest in these minority communities, and more importantly, the nuanced but valuable role biraderi politics played within British electoral politics. Over time, Oldham’s Pakistanis remained loyal to Labour, but the council never addressed the issues that plagued these minority communities.62

  • 63 Charlotte, Green. “What are the Oldham Local Council Election 2021 results?”. Manchester Evening Ne (...)
  • 64 Ibid.

43Today, that ‘modus vivendi’ is beginning to show cracks, and patterns of political control seem to be changing. Recently, Oldham’s council leader Mr. Fielding lost his seat in Failsworth West.63 Immediately, the council leadership was taken over by his colleague Ms. Arooj Shah, who became the first Muslim female council leader of Pakistani heritage in the whole north of England.64 Undeniably, Ms. Shah’s promotion as council leader is a feather in the cap of Oldham’s Pakistani community, a colossal milestone that makes their political inclusion more accomplished than it was before.

44Whether this signals the beginning of a new political era – with enhanced political representation for women and minorities – is difficult to determine, but there seems to be an ongoing reassessment of the prevailing dynamics of political control. Such as major change in the leadership of the Oldham council could be a sign that the city is finally ready for some real change in the ‘status quo’.

  • 65 Gabrielle, Pickard-Whitehead. “North’s first female Muslim council leader slams ‘dehumanising’ smea (...)

45However, as a woman of ethnic minority background, Councillor Shah’s political journey has been neither easy, nor unobstructed. Following her recent election as Oldham’s first female Muslim leader, she denounced the continued racism and misogyny she had been facing throughout her political journey.65 She puts it like this:

  • 66 Ibid.

“The tone of political discourse has become truly toxic…. throughout my political career, I’ve had a fair amount of hate and abuse, and that is for a variety of reasons. A lot of it is misogyny, a lot of it is racism and all that is very, very hurtful “.66

46Moving on from here, we will shift the focus of our attention to France where Ms. Shah’s Pakistani counterparts have encountered some very different challenges in French local politics.

The Politics of French Pakistanis – Between Tokenism and Politics

  • 67 Today, first-generation Pakistanis in France, and their families, have achieved a relatively high l (...)

47Overall, French Pakistanis are socio-economically successful, and the second and third generations are gradually converging towards mainstream career, marriage, and lifestyle choices.67 However, their socio-economic success and visibility in the economic sphere are just as remarkable as their truncated political inclusion. It would be excessive to talk of making a career in politics when few have been able to cross the threshold of the local municipality, and put together, the list of French citizens of South Asian descent, serving as adjuncts in French municipalities, is a short one. It would be simplistic to overly insist on demographic factors to account for this contrast with Britain, when so many other factors are at play, in particular political ones.

  • 68 Garbaye, 2005.
  • 69 Geisser and Oriol, 2001 cited in Garbaye, 2005.
  • 70 Patrick, Simon & Angéline, Escafré-Dublet. “Représenter la diversité en politique : une reformulati (...)

48For instance, it is worth noting that between 1995 and 2001, ‘North African councillors were rare …. and the few who were elected were almost, always kept in subordinate or isolated positions.68 In the 2001 municipal elections, the trend changed slightly, and ‘some 3.5% of the newly elected councillors in 109 French cities with more than 50,000 people were of Maghrebi background’.69 At the turn of the century, the French Parliament had less than 1% of MPs of immigré background.70

  • 71 Ibid.
  • 72 Yassir, Guelzim. ‘’Législatives 2022 : les 15 député(e)s franco-maghrébin(e )s de l’Assemblée natio (...)

49Writing in 2009, Patrick Simon and Angéline Escafré-Dublet highlighted that French citizens of immigré background were (still) largely underrepresented in elected local mandates, and this is the case, especially for those who come from the former colonies – Maghreb, sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia.71 This is still true today, but on a more optimistic note, it can be observed that the composition of the French parliament has continued to change and there are now more MPs of immigré background (slightly over 3%) than there were in the past.72

  • 73 Ibid.
  • 74 “La part des femmes progresse au Senat mais recule à l’Assemblée nationale’’. Observatoire des inég (...)
  • 75 Comments made by Romain Garbaye on a previous draft of this article. No formal source can be quoted (...)

50In 2017, fifteen MPs of Maghrebi origin were elected to the National Assembly and after the recent legislative elections of June 2022, this number has remained unchanged.73 However, this year, there are more women in the Senate (compared to 2017) but fewer women in the National Assembly.74 These numbers reflect periodic variations and political vicissitudes, and today the contrast between France and Britain is not as stark as it was twenty years ago.75

51Therefore, given that French Pakistanis represent much less than 1% of the total population of France, their limited visibility in French politics should raise little concern. Instead, my own interest was piqued by some interesting discoveries made during fieldwork. Essentially, some factors which led to lack of political participation and political underrepresentation were evident, while others needed to be uncovered through interviews and observation.

52The late obtention of citizenship and the language barrier serve to account for the political exclusion of first-generation Pakistani immigrés. The Pakistanis who migrated to France from the 1970s onwards did not have French citizenship, and most of them obtained it only after 1985. For more than a decade, they were politically estranged with no voting rights and little knowledge of French politics. Self-employment and the lack of trade union membership consolidated their political estrangement. For many, French electoral politics were hard to grapple with, compared to Britain’s two-party system, and compared to Pakistani politics too.

  • 76 A mixed sample of fifteen French Pakistani families, with first generation migrant Pakistani parent (...)
  • 77 Garbaye, 2005.

53However, for the second-generation, ancestry should not have been an impediment as it was compounded by several attributes favourable to inclusion: birth and life experience in France, attending secular public schools, living in mixed neighbourhoods, the completion of (higher) education in the French system and the inculcation of a strong French civic identity.76 The Pakistani second generation is probably just like the ‘North African second generation, which does have French citizenship, and constitutes a pool of voters’.77

54The contention here is that on the ground, the French political arena is not so egalitarian and colour-blind as it purports to be. Instead, there is strong empirical evidence behind the claim that some not-so-egalitarian political machinations are common practice in French municipalities. At the start, and then gradually, structural barriers and inherent racism bar ethnic minority citizens from entering French municipalities – a point that shall be elucidated through case studies.

  • 78 In the following lines, the names of the interviewees have been changed, but the locations are real (...)

55French municipalities seem to follow certain practices that enable them to minimise any opposition from within, for which purpose they cherry-pick non-confrontational candidates before the local elections. This is what interviews and informal discussions with locals in Villiers-le-bel and Creil revealed.78

56Thus seen, the underrepresentation of Pakistani-origin candidates does not seem to be the mere result of their low numbers in France, or of their relatively late arrival in France in comparison with their counterparts in the UK, but, more importantly, of the repercussion of implicit exclusionary practices built in French local political systems.

The Case of Haider T. in Villiers-le-bel, France

57Haider T. was one of those second-generation Pakistanis whose interest in French politics increased as he was growing up. At twenty years of age, he took over his father’s construction business and simultaneously continued his higher studies in finance and management. With parents who were educated, but politically marginal, he did not find political stimulation at home. Instead, he cultivated it himself. However, the interest he had in politics quickly faded when he discovered the bleak reality of local politics.

58An environmentalist by conviction, he stood the 2019 municipal elections in Villiers-le-bel. Along with him, two other second-generation Pakistanis (one man, and one woman) were on the lists too. This is how he recalls his experience:

  • 79 Excerpt from a series of interviews and exchanges with H.T from 2019 to 2022.

“You know I was asked to be on the list by people from the municipality, but it was purely symbolic. We have been living here since the 1980s, so people know me and my father, we have a business and a home here, we know people in the community and have good connections with our Pakistani embassy. It is good for the image of the municipality to showcase diversity in local elections, and it is good for our image as a community. I did not refuse because I knew they needed more minority candidates on the lists, but it’s not that they want me, I’d be a troublemaker and they don’t want that … Everything is played out in advance, that’s the way it’s always been done. The municipality won’t change hands, but I do believe they should do something about the state of affairs here.”79

  • 80 These figures are unofficial and come not from the local municipality or INSEE but correspond to th (...)

59According to unofficial estimates, Villiers-le-bel has a Pakistani community of around 1200 people but less than half are registered as voters (400 to 600 voters).80 Overall, Pakistanis constitute more than 4% of the city’s population and they are very active in local businesses and the private rental sector, but in terms of representation in the municipality, they have a long way to go. This is not to say that they have no elected representative in the municipality.

60All local bodies are cognisant of the need to keep local minority communities in the fold. Some years back, the local mayor decided he wanted a Pakistani on his team, so he chose Mr. Hussain81, a local Pakistani businessman who speaks little French. Ever since, Mr. Hussain has been coordinating all exchanges with the local Pakistani business community, a role that he officiates less like an elected representative, and more like Bradford’s Citizen Khan.82

The Case of Laiba F. in Creil, France

61This second case study demonstrates that there are local variations in the way politics and token politics are played out in different French municipalities. The attitude of local bodies to diversity and the representation of minorities is also found to be variable.

62Token politics are a common feature of these politics, but played out wisely, they can serve a dual purpose by enabling the municipality to achieve enhanced diversity and facilitate the non-confrontational and pacific inclusion of visible minorities in the polity. This in turn makes the city a better place to live for minorities, because local minority populations have their own representatives.

63In Creil, when the local Pakistani community wants something, they go to see Laiba. This is how she recounts her experience of working with the local community:

  • 83 Immediately
  • 84 Excerpt from a series of interviews and exchanges with L.F from 2019 to 2022.

I was born in Vincennes, and when I was a little child, we moved first to Paris and then to Creil. My father was from the very first batch of Pakistani migrants, the 1970 people you see…. He ran a business …. in the start, it was a little multimedia shop with Indian and Pakistani tapes and cassettes and then the business grew. He opened the first Pakistani food outlet in Creil, it was very popular. My father passed away in 2012, he was very active in the community, he often went to the Embassy to meet with people and to discuss our community’s progress… So, we are five brothers and sisters, I am the eldest. I have a Ph.D. in cardiovascular physiology, my brother is a doctor, my second brother has taken over the family business, one of my sisters is in research too and the youngest is still studying, she is not sure of what she wants to do… I was telling you that I had finished my Ph.D. when the local mayor approached my father – both were on very cordial terms – and suggested that I should come into local politics… That’s how I entered politics…. Now I am running my second mandate. During the first mandate I was conseillère départementale and now I am an adjunct to the mayor and look after the health and medical services. I have coordinated all health activities during the pandemic and recently I ran all the local vaccination centres… our people they don’t stop socialising, which is why we had huge Covid clusters here. First, they did not want to have the vaccine and now when they have to travel, they come running and they want the vaccine “tout de suite” (immediately)83 (giggles)… Yes, I gave up research for politics because the community needs me and as a Pakistani, they trust me. I can raise awareness on a variety of issues like education for girls, health, marriage, and voting. Sadly, the voter turnout is hopelessly low. Whenever I tell them to come to the polls, they ask me what they will get in return, but I see things changing slowly. I am here because my community trusted me with their vote, they confide in me, and I am happy to be able to help.84

  • 85 These figures are unofficial and correspond to the database maintained by the Pakistani embassy in (...)

64According to the figures she provided, Creil has a Pakistani population of more than 2,000 persons but less than 500 are registered as voters.85 Pakistanis constitute more than 5% of the city’s population and just like Pakistanis in Villiers-le-bel, they are very active in local businesses and sports, among which cricket. She also offered precious insight into the issues on which she was trying to raise consciousness.

65Arranged, transnational marriages are still common in the community and few girls have the chance to pursue higher education because parents arrange their marriage right out of high school. Pakistani residential segregation can also be observed in many areas and some years back, the situation became so worrisome that the local municipality had to intervene to discourage segregationist trends in the private housing sector.

66With these parallels with Oldham, it is little surprise that these Pakistanis – who otherwise are not fond of voting – emulated the political behaviour and attitudes of their British Pakistani compatriots. At the time of Laiba’s selection and election, the Pakistani community behaved almost just like Oldham’s Pakistanis, and the community’s local concentration gave Laiba political thrust and numeric advantage. Once local Pakistanis in Creil were given incentive, they ‘politicked’ and Laiba entered local politics.

  • 86 Garbaye, 2005.

67Evidently, a combination of several favourable factors like tokenism and politicking propelled Laiba F. into local politics. In her case, ‘the high spatial concentration of ethnic minorities in neighbourhoods encourages(d) feelings of shared identities and interests…. which in turn provides(d) incentives for them to become actors on the local political scene’ by providing political weight.86

  • 87 Ibid.

68We witness here ‘the importance of locality’ in minority politics with an emphasis on the role of ‘relations between citizenship, community, locality, and ethnicity’.87 But the local concentration of the Pakistani community proved effective only because there was an opening and political goodwill behind it, and the municipality’s efforts to include a minority candidate were not just symbolic.

69However, what worked in Laiba’s case did not work for Haider whom the municipality viewed as a confrontational candidate. With similar credentials and background, Haider was barred from entering the local political arena whereas she was facilitated. As a second-generation Pakistani woman, she was able to achieve what a second-generation male with a similar social, political, economic, and cultural baggage failed to achieve – this should not mislead into thinking that the political inclusion of women is any easier.

70As these two case studies implicitly demonstrate, the level of the socio-cultural inclusion of both candidates made little difference when it came to their entry into local politics. With a French spouse, Haider is probably more assimilated compared to Laiba who had an arranged marriage. Today, Laiba is the only second-generation Pakistani woman to have made it thus far, and this is probably because her community played politics the desi way (indigenous way) and the municipality allowed them to do so.

71Additionally, Laiba’s case presents some broad parallels with the politics of British Pakistanis. Building on Getting into Local Power, we notice that just like the Asian councillors who were elected in Britain through the 1980s and 1990s, Laiba became well established in the local municipality of Creil and in the community that she represented. Similarly, even if there may have been some tokenism and patronage, she managed to participate actively in the working and decision-making of the local municipality and got re-elected for a second mandate.

72More importantly, the comparison of Villiers-le-bel and Creil informs us of the nature and form of local power dynamics and the mechanisms of the incorporation of visible minorities into French municipalities. In both places, local Pakistanis are economically well-implanted and included, but they have only achieved differential political inclusion in the local political arena because of differences in the polity’s attitude to diversity and the policies followed to encourage the incorporation of visible minorities. A look at the composition of both municipal councils reveals that Creil has continuously offered more opportunities to visible minorities (African, Maghrebi, South Asian), and it is far more diverse than that of Villiers-le-bel.

73If Haider (in Villiers-le-bel) felt politically marginal, it is because he saw little change in the prevailing schemas of political control. In the future, if he were given the chance to stand elections on the mayor’s list, he will probably get elected. Paradoxically, Mr. Hussain’s being a member of the local municipality in Villiers-le-bel serves to prove that the incorporation of minorities depends largely on whether the municipality wants to incorporate or not.

74Overall, the political inclusion of minority candidates as elected representatives in French municipalities does not seem to have mimicked the British bottom-up approach. Instead, we witness a top-down political manoeuvre where the municipality decides who it will let in, and who shall wait outside.

Conclusion

75This research paper has aimed to examine the political participation of Pakistanis in Britain and France, focusing on their representation in local political systems. One potential mode of understanding of this contrast could be that the political participation of Pakistanis in France was originally low because of the political alienation of the first generation, and that it remained low because the following generations became politically marginal and indifferent, compared to their counterparts in Great Britain. In this perspective, their low representation would seem correlated to their low political participation and limited political clout.

76This line of thought construes the political journey of minorities as linear and unobstructed, and the limitations of this logic soon become apparent. Firstly, due to the absence of statistics, it impracticable to quantify political participation or voter turnout with accuracy. Secondly, fieldwork furnished some robust elements for qualitative analysis, which put together and analysed, looked more promising. This article has thus adopted another – that of drawing attention to the persistent obstacles in the way of the representation of minorities in local politics.

77French and British political systems owe their peculiarity at least in part to the specific nature of French and British societies. Over the course of time, immigrants have been continuously absorbed in both societies, but this process was unique and context specific. In Great Britain, immigrants became included not just as individuals, but also, to some extent, as a group, while, in France, immigrants were included strictly as individuals.

78This attribute of French political culture is reflected in its political system, where the citizen is required to make headway as an individual, on his or her own. Detached from the group, the possibilities of the individual citizen are limited further in the restrictive and restricted French political system. In comparison, minority populations in Great Britain have been able to garner numerical advantage and use their collective sway to select and elect their candidates.

  • 88 Aina, J.Khan. “UK’s four great offices of state may soon not feature a white man for first time”. T (...)
  • 89 Ibid.

79Thus, due to the specific nature of British society, the British political sphere remains relatively more open and inclusive to its minorities. For instance, it can be noted that for the first time, four great offices of state seem to be destined to three, or even four politicians who are not white men.88 According to The Guardian, the recently elected British prime minister-in-waiting Liz Truss is expected to appoint James Cleverly as foreign secretary, Suella Braverman as home secretary and Kwasi Karteng as chancellor – all three of BAME background.89 Nonetheless, this favourable episode in British politics should not mislead observers into assuming that women’s political ascension is easier or that racism will stop obstructing the path of Britain’s minorities – though such milestones remind us of what has been achieved, thus far.

80Therefore, it can be stipulated that despite a dominant trend of convergence, French and British societies and their political cultures are quite distinctive and unique, and this article has attempted to highlight some specific characteristics of both societies and political systems.

81For instance, though the British political system has been more open and inclusive than the French one, we may note that its two-party system keeps the stride of smaller political parties in check. It is hardly surprising that the British Asian politicians who rose to some prominence belonged either to Labour or, more recently, to the Conservatives. We may take the example of Sadiq Khan, Rishi Sunak, Priti Patel, Sajid Javid and Naz Shah, to name a few.

  • 90 Koebel, Michel, Les élections municipales sont-elles politiques ?. Savoir Agir. Editions du Croquan (...)
  • 91 Ibid.

82In comparison, French local politics are more complex because the existing system is such that minority candidates will remain marginal unless they benefit from the support of the mayor and his team. Michel Koebel writes that ever since the system called scrutin à listes bloquées (blocked municipal lists) came into force, French voters have lost the right to choose their representatives since voters are required to vote for entire municipal lists, and not for individual candidates.90 Koebel adds that though the municipal system is the same throughout France, there are local variations from city to city depending on the size and population of the locality, its demographics, and its economic resources.91

83An interesting feature of this system is that it de facto allocates half of the municipality’s seats to the sitting mayor and his team, and resultantly, opposition from within is minimised to the extent that it becomes practically impossible to challenge prevailing systems of political control. The case of the local politics of Villiers-le-bel demonstrates this quite well.

84Drawing on the above, it can be inferred that how much opening and overture a French municipality creates for any ‘outsiders’ (including minority candidates) depends precisely on what the municipality controls, and risks losing. The higher the stakes of power-sharing and inclusion, the lower are the chances of incorporation. Relatedly, in the two French scenarios elaborated earlier, it may be deduced that the political stakes were higher in Villiers-le-bel, hence its municipality kept conditions of access more restricted than what is witnessed in Creil.

85This situation clearly impacts French candidates of immigré background more than it affects ‘white’ candidates, whose political inclusion does not appear to be at stake. Furthermore, it is evident that those French candidates of immigré background who have been able to make political careers (like becoming MPs) initially acquired access to their respective local polities as non-confrontational candidates. Had they been viewed as confrontational candidates or alternatively as candidates more likely to form a strong opposition once in the municipality, their local municipalities would probably not have allowed them to get to the front lines.

86Thus, the political representation of French candidates of immigré background appears to be largely symbolic because it does not seem like the French political system would allow them to have any sweeping or groundbreaking political agenda. Furthermore, since the conditions of access appear to be more restrictive and regulated in French local politics, this caps further the level of representation that minorities will be able to achieve over time. If British Pakistani politicians encountered similar restraints in their local politics, only few of them would have become MPs.

87In fact, the French system of local politics is designed in a way that once a political party wins a majority once, the system helps them stay in power and establish a stronghold – as in Villiers-le-bel where the political left has remained in power for many decades. Certainly, there are strongholds in British local politics too – like Oldham which has long remained a Labour fortress – but this is because people choose their candidates themselves, allowing a political party to remain in power. Clearly, the British political system does not give any extra advantage to the sitting mayor, had it been so, Oldham’s Mr. Fielding would not have lost the control of the municipality after losing his seat in Failsworth.

88And yet, despite the complexities of both political systems, political participation should enable French and British minorities to challenge prevailing schemas of political control and denounce discriminatory practices in the political arena.

89Indeed, both the French and British political systems and societies present specific challenges and chances, and how minority citizens recognise and reappropriate the opportunities they come across, determines how far they will go.

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British Office for National Statistics. Office for National Statistics. “Population of the UK by country of birth and nationality: Individual country data.” Census 2021.

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Pickard-Whitehead, G., “North’s first female Muslim council leader slams ‘dehumanising’ smear campaign”. Left Foot Forward. 07 May 2022. https://leftfootforward.org/2022/05/norths-first-female-muslim-council-leader-slams-dehumanising-smear-campaign. Retrieved on 20 September 2022.

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‘‘Villiers-le-Bel en quelques chiffres’’. Ville de Villiers-le-Bel. INSEE. 2018

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Notes

1 Romain, Garbaye. Getting into Local Power: The Politics of Ethnic Minorities in British and French Cities. London: Blackwell. 2005.

2 Ibid.

3 Here I borrow the expression employed by Romain Garbaye in Getting into Local Power (2005).

4 Garbaye, 2005.

5 Throughout this article, the term British Pakistani is used to denote British citizens of Pakistani origin and similarly, the term French Pakistanis refers to French citizens of Pakistani ancestry. The populations under study here are second-generation British Pakistani and French Pakistani citizens. Today, most of these Pakistanis are dual nationality holders since both France and the United Kingdom have dual nationality agreements with Pakistan. in the French context the term immigré (or immigré background) tends to designate any individual who resides in France at present but who was born, neither French, nor on French territory. Hence, the country of birth continues to determine who qualifies as an immigré, and this attribute remains unchanged even if a person acquires French citizenship. In the British context, the terms of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) and Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) had been in use for many years but in March 2021, the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities recommended to stop its further use. In the meanwhile, the 2021 Census still recognised ‘Pakistani’ as an ethnic group under the broader Asian or Asian British category.

6 Office for National Statistics. “Population of the UK by country of birth and nationality: Individual country data.” Census 2021. Downloaded from https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity /populationandmigration/internationalmigration/datasets/populationoftheunitedkingdombycountryofbirthandnationalityunderlyingdatasheets

7 Ibid.

8 In the absence of French official statistics, the statistics used here are those obtained from the National Identity card database of the Pakistani Embassy in Paris, France. These 100,000 include only those Pakistanis living legally in France, either as residents or as French citizens.

9 BBC One (n.d). Our Untold Stories.

10 Ibid.

11 Alisson, Shaw. Kinship and Continuity. Brunel UP. 1988

12 Clair, Wills. Lovers and Strangers. Penguin Books. 2017

13 Parveen, Akhtar. “The Political Success of the British Pakistani Diaspora” in Rashid, Amjad (ed.) The Pakistani Diaspora: Corridors of Opportunity and Uncertainty. Lahore: Lahore School of Economics. 2017.

14 Herein, the term British Pakistanis is being employed to refer to British citizens of Pakistani ancestry or origin who are dual nationality holders.

15 The nomenclature French Pakistani refers to French citizens of Pakistani origin, those who are citizens of both France and Pakistan with full citizenship rights.

16 Ibid.

17 Elise, Uberoi and Richard, Tunicliffe. “Ethnic diversity in politics and public life”. House of Commons Library. Updated on 26 Nov 2021. https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/sn01156/. Retrieved on 20 September 2022.

18 Ibid.

19 Ibid.

20 Garbaye, 2005.

21 “How the population changed in Oldham: Census 2021”. British Office of National Statistics. Census 2021. Updated 28th June 2022. URL https://www.ons.gov.uk/visualisations/censuspopulationchange/E08000004/

22 Ibid.

23 ‘‘Oldham in Profile – April 2019’’. Published by the Oldham Council. Downloaded from https://www.oldham.gov.uk/downloads/file/4739/oldham_in_profile

24 Ibid.

25 “England’s most deprived areas named as Jaywick and Blackpool”. BBC News. 26 Sept, 2019. URL https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-49812519

26 Ibid.

27 ‘‘Oldham in Profile – April 2019’’. p 8.

28 Ibid. p 17.

29 Ibid. p 19-20.

30 Ibid.

31 Ibid.

32 Ibid.

33 ‘‘Villiers-le-bel en quelques chiffres’’. Ville de Villiers-le-bel. 2018

34 Ibid.

35 Ibid.

36 Ibid.

37 Marjorie, Lenhardt. “En 30 ans, la population immigrée a doublé dans le Val d’Oise”. Le Parisien. 22 Nov. 2017.

38 Ibid.

39 Ibid.

40 “Dossier Complet”. Ville de Creil. INSEE. 2018.

41 Ibid.

42 Ibid.

43 Ibid.

44 Ibid.

45 Ibid.

46 -. ‘Who is Sajid Javid?’. Biogs. Accessed on 30 Sept 2022. https://www.biogs.com. Retrieved on 20 September 2022.

47 Ibid.

48 -. Shah, Naz. Accessed on 30 Sept 2022. https://www.politics.co.uk/reference/naz-shah Retrieved on 20 September 2022.

49 Ibid.

50 Akhtar, 2015.

51 As Punjab Governor, Chaudhry Sarwar also strongly supported voting rights for overseas Pakistanis and reserved seats in assemblies.

52 Ibid.

53 Saggar, Shamit. Race and Political Representation: Electoral Politics and Ethnic Pluralism. Manchester: Manchester UP. 2000.

54 MJ, Le Lohé. “Participation in Elections by Asians in Bradford”, in Ivor, Crewe (ed.), Race and British Electoral Politics, London: UCL Press Ltd., 1998.

55 ─, “Oldham’s first Asian Mayor”. Manchester Evening News. 21 Aug 2007.

56 Garbaye, 2005.

57 Parveen, Akhtar. The Paradox of Patronage Politics: Biraderi, representation and political participation amongst British Pakistanis. London: Routledge. 2015.

58 Eleanor Hill. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know: What are the implications of networks in UK electoral politics? PhD thesis. University of Manchester, School of Social Sciences. 2018

59 Ibid.

60 J. Nielsen (ed.). Muslims and Political Participation in Europe. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP. 2013.

61 Eleanor Hill. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know: What are the implications of networks in UK electoral politics? PhD thesis. University of Manchester, School of Social Sciences. 2018

62 Awan, 2020.

63 Charlotte, Green. “What are the Oldham Local Council Election 2021 results?”. Manchester Evening News. 6 May 2021. -

64 Ibid.

65 Gabrielle, Pickard-Whitehead. “North’s first female Muslim council leader slams ‘dehumanising’ smear campaign”. Left Foot Forward. 07 May 2022. https://leftfootforward.org/2022/05/norths-first-female-muslim-council-leader-slams-dehumanising-smear-campaign. Retrievec on 20 September 2022.

66 Ibid.

67 Today, first-generation Pakistanis in France, and their families, have achieved a relatively high level of socio-economic affluence and upward social mobility. Pakistani primary migrants of the 1970s and 1980s turned to self-employment and other professions tested by their compatriots in Britain: trading on local markets, the sale of ethnic clothes, consumer goods and household items. They were also active in the construction sector and the food industry. Like all immigrants, many first-generation Pakistanis worked as taxi-drivers, and for some, the profession and the number plate have been passed on from father to son. In the recent years, Pakistanis have become the barons of the ethnic private rental market, a highly profitable niche, wherein Pakistani landlords rent out average and/or mediocre housing to single men, families in need, new arrivals and to all those who do not qualify for social housing.In each case, Pakistanis identified lucrative ethnic niches and slotted in. For those who were industrial workers, it is in the growing sectors of automobiles, heavy industries, metallurgy, electronics, and aeronautics that they were employed.

68 Garbaye, 2005.

69 Geisser and Oriol, 2001 cited in Garbaye, 2005.

70 Patrick, Simon & Angéline, Escafré-Dublet. “Représenter la diversité en politique : une reformulation de la dialectique de la différence et de l’égalité par la doxa républicaine”. Raisons Politiques. No. 35. 2009. Pp. 125 to 141.

71 Ibid.

72 Yassir, Guelzim. ‘’Législatives 2022 : les 15 député(e)s franco-maghrébin(e )s de l’Assemblée nationale’’. Le courrier de l’Atlas. 20 June 2022 https://www.lecourrierdelatlas.com/legislatives-2022-les-15-deputes-franco-maghrebins-de-lassemblee/. Retrieved on 20 September 2022.

73 Ibid.

74 “La part des femmes progresse au Senat mais recule à l’Assemblée nationale’’. Observatoire des inégalités. 15 July 2022. https://www.inegalites.fr/paritefemmeshommespolitique . Retrieved on 20 September 2022.

75 Comments made by Romain Garbaye on a previous draft of this article. No formal source can be quoted.

76 A mixed sample of fifteen French Pakistani families, with first generation migrant Pakistani parents, was chosen for the purpose of study.

77 Garbaye, 2005.

78 In the following lines, the names of the interviewees have been changed, but the locations are real.

79 Excerpt from a series of interviews and exchanges with H.T from 2019 to 2022.

80 These figures are unofficial and come not from the local municipality or INSEE but correspond to the database maintained by the Pakistani embassy in France.

81 The names of the subjects have been changed for confidentiality and in line with research ethics in vogue.

82 Citizen Khan http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00vh04w#programme-broadcasts Retrieved on 20/09.22

83 Immediately

84 Excerpt from a series of interviews and exchanges with L.F from 2019 to 2022.

85 These figures are unofficial and correspond to the database maintained by the Pakistani embassy in France.

86 Garbaye, 2005.

87 Ibid.

88 Aina, J.Khan. “UK’s four great offices of state may soon not feature a white man for first time”. The Guardian. 5 Sep 2022. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2022/sep/05/uks-four-great-offices-of-state-may-soon-not-feature-a-white-man-for-first-time Retrieved on 20 September 2022.

89 Ibid.

90 Koebel, Michel, Les élections municipales sont-elles politiques ?. Savoir Agir. Editions du Croquant. No.3. 2008. DOI 10.3917/sava.003.0103

91 Ibid.

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Pour citer cet article

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Sonia Awan, « The Political Inclusion of Pakistanis in British and French municipalities: A comparison of Oldham, Villiers le-Bel and Creil  »Observatoire de la société britannique, 29 | 2022, 111-133.

Référence électronique

Sonia Awan, « The Political Inclusion of Pakistanis in British and French municipalities: A comparison of Oldham, Villiers le-Bel and Creil  »Observatoire de la société britannique [En ligne], 29 | 2022, mis en ligne le 01 avril 2023, consulté le 22 avril 2024. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/osb/5869 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/osb.5869

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Sonia Awan

Doctorante en civilisation britannique à l’Université Sorbonne Nouvelle

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