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Immigrants at the Polls: comparing electoral participation in countries of origin and of residence

February 18, 2016

The political participation of immigrants has received increased scholarly attention over recent decades. However, comparisons between the electoral behavior of immigrants in their countries of origin and of residence are still limited. This paper addresses this gap in the literature and seeks to identify the determinants of Romanian immigrants’ electoral participation in the local elections of four West European countries (Germany, France, Italy, and Spain) as compared to their turnout in their home country’s legislative elections. Looking through the lenses of exposure theory, we hypothesize that contact with institutions, people, and values from the countries of residence are likely to have different effects in the two types of elections. We test the explanatory power of four main variables – time spent in the host country, social networks, degree of involvement in the local community, and the type of relationship with citizens of their host countries – to which we add a series of individual-level controls such as age, education, gender, and media exposure. To assess our claim, we employ binary logistic regression to analyze original web survey data collected in the summer of 2013. The result supports the empirical implications of exposure theory.

Financial support from the EUROLAB project at the GESIS is gratefully acknowledged by the authors.

From → Published papers

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