Do immigrant-origin candidates attract immigrant-origin voters in party-centred electoral systems? Evidence from Germany

Abstract

A burgeoning literature on minority representation asks whether immigrant-origin voters are more likely to vote for candidates of immigrant-origin (CIOs) than for native candidates, thus giving parties incentives to nominate CIOs. At present, however, evidence of such a link comes exclusively from candidate-centred electoral systems. The present study intends to narrow this gap by examining the influence of CIOs on the voting behaviour of immigrant-origin citizens in Germany, a more party-centred electoral environment. An empirical analysis of opinion survey and candidate data from the 2013 Bundestag election suggests that the electoral link between voters and CIOs is considerable. This paper is thus the first one to show that CIOs are a significant factor for the electoral mobilisation of immigrant-origin citizens in a party-centred electoral system.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    An exceptions to this pattern applies, however, to the immigrant group of so-called “ethnic Germans”, whose troubled history with communist parties has made them overwhelmingly supporters of the Christian Democrats (Wüst 2004).

  2. 2.

    Please see Appendix Table 1 in the supplementary material for a detailed overview and description of the GLES variables used in this article and how they were recoded.

  3. 3.

    Please see Appendix Table 2 in the supplementary material for a detailed description of the specific immigrant backgrounds of voters and candidates, and of immigrant and native voters’ exposure to local CIOs in the final merged dataset.

  4. 4.

    The translated question wording (own translation) of this item (v82a-e) is: “Do you know the name of one or several district candidates and can you maybe even tell me for which party these candidates are running in the Election on 22nd September 2013? Please tell me the name and party of the candidates.”

  5. 5.

    Assuming that the electoral link between immigrant-origin voters and candidates is stronger if they are of same rather than of different descent, it should be more difficult to establish the link statistically in the latter case. According to hypothesis-testing theory, such a situation would increases the probability of a type II error, that is, failing to reject the null-hypothesis (i.e. no relationship) even if the null-hypothesis is wrong (i.e. relationship exists) (Cameron and Trivedi 2009, p. 407; Zingher and Farrer 2016, p. 695). As it should become more difficult to establish a relationship as a type II error becomes more likely, our confidence in the validity of the hypothesis is strengthened if the empirical evidence supports the hypothesis anyways.

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Acknowledgements

An earlier version of this article was presented at the 76th Annual MPSA Conference 2018 in Chicago. I would like to thank Thomas Saalfeld, Marc Helbling, Ulrich Sieberer, Sebastian Jungkunz and one anonymous reviewer for helpful comments and suggestions. I also thank Joanna MacLeod for proofreading, Julian Hohner for research assistance and gratefully acknowledge the support of the Abgeordnetenwatch website's administrators (http://www.abgeordnetenwatch.de), who kindly provided me with an extract of their database. All remaining errors and omissions remain my sole responsibility.

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Correspondence to Lucas Geese.

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Geese, L. Do immigrant-origin candidates attract immigrant-origin voters in party-centred electoral systems? Evidence from Germany. Acta Polit 55, 492–511 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41269-018-0126-9

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Keywords

  • Voting behaviour
  • Immigrant-origin candidates
  • Immigrant-origin voters
  • Electoral systems
  • Party-centred electoral systems
  • Germany