“Why Don’t Immigrants Vote More?” — Participation in Local Elections Published

paMy paper on the electoral participation of immigrants in local elections is now available online (Parliamentary Affairs). As part of this research, I spoke to a politician who exclaimed: ‘Why don’t they [immigrants] vote now that we have given them the opportunity?’. It’s the expectation that all ‘we’ have to do is enfranchise immigrants, and they’ll flock to the ballot boxes. But, they don’t.

In the paper I present a new representative survey of participation in the 2015 municipal elections in the Canton of Geneva. The cleaned data (and replication material) are available at IQSS Dataverse; the raw data at FORS.

In Geneva, foreign citizens who have lived in Switzerland for at least 8 years have the right to vote in local elections. In 2015, the chancellor wrote a personal letter to each of them to invite them to vote, yet most immigrant groups vote less than the majority population. In the paper I test four common explanations for this difference in electoral turnout: social origin (resources), political engagement, civic integration and networks, as well as socialisation. Individually, all these explanations are associated with differences in electoral participation, but contrary to some recent studies, substantive differences between nationalities remain in the local elections in Geneva.

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