ABSTRACT

Although politics becomes increasingly a ‘career’ or even a ‘profession’, most citizens are not predestined for political offi ce. The political recruitment process does not operate in any random way: in their passage to power, elected representatives have often benefi ted from various circumstances (e.g. the upbringing in a political family, a recognized reputation in the locality), personal predispositions (like ambition) or specifi c legal provisions (such as towards specifi c group, women etc.; Prewitt 1970; Budge and Farlie 1975; Norris 1997). All these elements are intertwined aspects of political recruitment, ‘the process by which citizens are mobilized into politics’ (Brady et al. 1999: 153). This chapter, which is directly inspired by a previous publication on the same subject, but for municipal councillors (Verhelst and Kerrouche 2012), focuses on two phases of this process at the local level: the activation and apprenticeships of councillors-to-be, turning ‘eligible’ citizens (Abéles 1989) into aspirants willing and ready to run for offi ce. In our perspective, activation on one hand refers to the incitement towards, and awakening interest in politics through the primary socialization in the family/local environment and the combination of different motivations. Apprenticeships, on the other hand, refer to the acquisition of specifi c political skills in networks from associational and political life. Activation and apprenticeships may determine candidates’ passages to power by adding up to, or compensating for the basic and most documented resource of eligible citizens, i.e. a favourable and distinctive social background (Levine and Hyde 1977; Steyvers and Reynaert 2006).