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Electoral Participation of Immigrants: Why Do Immigrants Not Vote More Often When They Are Given the Opportunity?

Ruedin, Didier

Paper prepared for the Annual IMISCOE Conference, Prague

Objective: Examine why immigrants are less likely to vote. Methods: A new representative dataset on the political participation of immigrants in the 2015 municipal elections in the Canton of Geneva, Switzerland is presented. It draws on questions from the Swiss Electoral Studies (Selects) and is enriched with questions relevant to immigrant origin. Logistic regression analysis with predicted probabilities is used to predict electoral participation. Results: Despite having the right to vote, most immigrant groups are less likely to vote than the majority population. Four explanations are tested for this gap in political participation: differences in social origin, political engagement, civic integration and networks, as well as socialization. Individually, all these explanations are associated with differences in political participation, but when all are tested at once, socialization ceases to be statistically significant. Conclusion: While it cannot account for the entirety of differences, social origin accounts for a large part of the different probabilities to vote between nationalities.

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