Immigrant German Election Study

Research Project

Our project aims to conduct the first Immigrant German Election Study for the federal election in 2017, targeting German citizens with an immigrant background, i.e. people who either migrated to Germany themselves (first generation) or have at least one parent who was born in another country (second generation).

The project is funded by the German Research Foundation from October 2016 until September 2019.

Due to limited data, previous studies could not provide multivariate analyses of the voting behaviour of different migration groups and generations. Even though theoretical approaches are available that explain the turnout of migrant voters, theories that explain migrants’ vote choice are scarce. At the same time, the exploration of the voting behaviour of this growing sub-population is of considerable scientific and political relevance. Migrant voters are a highly interesting group for electoral researchers because the political socialisation of citizens of migrant descent and autochthonous citizens often varies considerably.

In our study, we focus on the two most relevant migrant groups in Germany: German citizens of Turkish descent (about 1.3 million) and of Russian/Soviet descent (about 2.4 million). Therefore, the main goal of our project is to explore whether the voting behaviour of German citizens of migrant origin can be explained by established voting theories or if it is more dependent on migrant-specific characteristics (e.g. socio-economic integration).

Our project consists of two stages. First, we will conduct focus group discussions with German citizens of Turkish and Russian/Soviet descent, respectively, for a more thorough understanding of the identity contents and issue orientations. Results from this stage will be used for the development of the questionnaire for the quantitative stage. Simultaneously with the German Longitudinal Election Study (GLES) post-election survey, interviews will be conducted with 500 German citizens of Turkish descent and 500 German citizens of Russian/Soviet descent at the end of 2017.

Our multi-language study design will allow us to conduct the first representative analysis of the determinants of vote choice for migrant voters in Germany.