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In the name of the father? The role of family politicization in the political socialization process of Belgian federal election candidates

Hilde Van Liefferinge, Carl Devos, Kristof Steyvers

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Family politicization remains a disproportionately represented background feature of federal election candidates in Belgium. For a holistic explanation of this overrepresentation, diverse features should be taken into account. In this article we focus on the role of family politicization in one major explanatory feature, namely the political socialization process. Our empirical data stem from a 2009 elite survey, in which Belgian federal election candidates were asked for several aspects of their family background, political engagement and career. The results show that candidates stemming from highly politicized families develop an earlier interest in politics, enter political life at an earlier age, had more frequent political discussions in the home environment and show higher partisanship agreement with their parents than candidates with lower levels of family politicization and certainly than candidates from families in which party politics was completely absent.

Keywords: family politicization – political socialization – election candidates – party politics – political recruitment