Immigrant German Election Study

Research Projects

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 until October 2020.

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 conducted 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 were used for the development of the questionnaire for the quantitative stage. Simultaneously with the German Longitudinal Election Study (GLES) post-election survey, interviews were 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 allowed us to conduct the first representative analysis of the determinants of vote choice for migrant voters in Germany.

Both waves of the study have already been completed. For a first analysis, further working papers and updates on the project visit also our Research Gate project in english and german language.


► Qualitative Stage

The qualitative stage of the project (October 2016 until July 2017) explored the issue and candidate orientations of migrants. The results were used for the development of the questionnaire for the quantitative stage. The core questions are: Which political issues are classified as important to all Germans/all migrants from the same group? What political issues do Germans of immigrant origin perceive as “left” and “right”? What are the identity contents that Germans of migrant origin associate with being German?
We used focus group interviews as the research method in the Duisburg/Cologne area that consisted of 6-7 participants of Russian/Soviet descent each and lasted for about 2 hours.

Quantitative Stage

The quantitative stage of the project consists of a standardized computer-assisted personal survey of German citizens of Russian and Turkish descent, respectively. 500 interviews were conducted within each migrant group.
Contrary to the German Longitudinal Election Study (GLES), we focused exclusively on German citizens of migration descent so that the case numbers will be high enough to perform multivariate analyses. Our sampling strategy consisted of a two-step sampling procedure. First, we drew German municipalities (“Gemeinden”) as Primary Sample Units (PSU), using a Probability Proportional to Size (PPS) procedure that weighs the likelihood of a PSU to be chosen by the number of residents of a municipality. Second, personal addresses were drawn from the residents’ registration offices registers, and onomastic procedures were used to determine the origin of the first and last name.

The survey lasted about 60 minutes and was conducted synchronously to the GLES post-election survey in November 2017. Available survey languages were German, Russian or Turkish. The questionnaire consisted of two parts. The first part reflected established items for electoral research that were also used in the GLES post-election survey to ensure the comparability of our sample with the group of autochthonous citizens. The second part encompassed items that capture migrant-specific characteristics (e.g. citizenship, membership in ethnic organisations, and ethnic identity).

We also asked for the participants’ willingness to participate in further surveys so we will be able to use the sample to conduct a second survey.


Publications and Talks


Spies, Dennis C, Sabrina J Mayer & Achim Goerres (forthcoming): What are we missing? Explaining immigrant-origin voter turnout with standard and immigrant-specific theories. Electoral Studies.

Goerres, Achim, Sabrina J Mayer & Dennis C Spies (2019): Immigrant Voters against their Will? A Focus Group Analysis of Identities, Political Issues and Party Allegiances among German Resettlers during the 2017 Bundestag Election Campaign. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. DOI: 10.1080/1369183X.2018.1503527


► Selected Talks

The effect of national and ethnic identities on anti-immigrant and anti-majority sentiment among immigrant voters. EPSA Annual Conference, Belfast, June 2019.

What are we missing? Conference of Europeanists, Madrid, June 2019.

Russlanddeutsche und Politik: Einstellungen und Verhalten während der Bundestagswahl 2017. Landeszentrale für Politische Bildung NRW, Düsseldorf, July 2019.

Alike at the core, different at the margins? Explaining party preferences of immigrant voters. EPSA Annual Conference, Wien, Juni 2018.

Established models or migrant-specific factors? Explaining party preferences of immigrant voters. Jahrestagung des Arbeitskreises Wahlen und politische Einstellungen der DVPW, Berlin, Mai 2018.

Was beeinflusst das Wahlverhalten der Deutschen aus der Türkei? Auswärtiges Amt, Berlin, May 2018.

Auf der Suche nach „Eugen Vogt“ und „Elif Yilmaz“: Stichprobenziehung und Gewichtung in der ersten deutschen Migrantenwahlstudie anlässlich der Bundestagswahl 2017, Jahrestagung der Sektion Methoden der DVPW, Frankfurt, May 2018.

Der Einfluss von Diskriminierung und Identifikation. Ergebnisse der Immigrant German Election Study. Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Berlin, April 2018.

Immigrant Voters against their Will? MPSA General Conference, Chicago (USA), April 2018.

The ‚Most German’ Voters? A Focus Group Analysis of Identities, Political Issues and Allegiances to the Right among Ethnic Germans from the Soviet Union. Conference of the Council for European Studies, Glasgow (UK), July 2017.

Talking about migration experience and voting: How Germans of Turkish descent construct their personal electoral space in groups of peers“ Jahrestagung des Arbeitskreises Wahlen und politische Einstellungen der DVPW, Frankfurt, May 2017.

First Immigrant German Election Study (IMGES), GESIS, Cologne, April 2017.



Prof. Dr. Achim Goerres, University of Duisburg-Essen & Interdisciplinary Centre for Integration and Migration Research (InZentIM), Principal Investigator
specializes in survey research, especially electoral research. He published numerous studies on voting turn out, vote choice, other forms of political participation, and political attitudes in Germany or Europe.

►  Prof. Dr. Dennis Spies, University of Southern Denmark, Danish Centre for Welfare Studies, Principal Investigator
worked extensively on the topics of immigration, voting behaviour, and political attitudes in international comparison. He focuses on the impact of immigration on voting behaviour and political attitudes of autochthonous citizens.

► Dr. Sabrina Mayer, University of Duisburg-Essen & Interdisciplinary Centre for Integration and Migration Research (InZentIM), Project manager
focused on the social identity of party adherents and the measurement of multiple party identifications in her PhD project. Her research interests are political psychology, qualitative and quantitative methods as well as research on social identity of political groups.

► Jonas Elis (MA), University of Duisburg-Essen
achieved his master degree in Survey Methodology in November 2019 at the Institute of Sociology at the University of Duisburg-Essen. During his previous work at the University of Duisburg-Essen and the Rhine-Ruhr Institute for Social Research and Political Counseling (RISP e.V.) he already worked on the conduction and analysis of multiple (large-scale) surveys.


Press Coverage

► Selected Media Reports

In English

The Local DE, 19. September 2017: Will​ ​Turkish​ ​voters​ ​listen​ ​to​ ​Erdogan​ ​and​ ​try​ ​to​ ​sabotage​ ​Merkel in the elections?

Financial Times, 31. August 2017: AfD deploys double-headed eagle to snare Russian-German voters

New York Times, 16. August 2017: Russian-Germans in Focus Amid Fears of Moscow Propaganda

Other languages (mostly in German)

MDR Sachsen, 19. September 2019: Spätaussiedler treffen sich in Chemnitz

Nürnberger Zeitung, 18. Juli 2018: Der Gang zur Wahlurne fällt schwer

Rheinische Post, 19. Juni 2018: Präsidentschaftswahl in der Türkei

NDR Info - Das Forum, 24. April 2018: Rechtsruck, 18. März 2018, Gelangweilter Blick auf die Wahl in Moskau

Sü, 08. März 2018: Russlanddeutsche mögen die Linkspartei lieber als die AfD

Deutsche Welle, 06. März 2018: Studie: Migranten überraschen mit Wahlverhalten

ZEIT ONLINE, 05. März 2018: Erdogan bei Deutschtürken weniger beliebt als Merkel
auch: Epoch Times, LN Online, ZDFmediathek, DTJ ONLINE, Abendzeitung, Allgemeine Zeitung, Antenna Unna, Augsburger Allgemeine, baden online, Badische Neueste Nachrichten, Badische Zeitung, Berchtesgadener Anzeiger, Berliner Morgenpost, Berliner Zeitung, Borkener Zeitung, Braunschweiger Zeitung, Bürstädter Zeitung, Cellesche Zeitung, DIE HARKE, Echo, Eßlinger Zeitung,, FOCUS Online,, Frankenpost,, General-Anzeiger Bonn, Gießener Allgemeine Zeitung, Gießener Anzeiger, Gifhorner Rundschau, GMX.CH,, Hamburger Abendblatt,, Helmstedter Nachrichten, Hildesheimer Allgemeine Zeitung,, inSüdthü, Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, Kölnische Rundschau, LR ONLINE,, Main-Echo, MAIN-POST,, Main-Spitze, Mannheimer Morgen,, Mindener Tageblatt, Mittelbayerische,, Mü,, Neckaralb Live, Neue Presse Coburg, Neue Westfälische,,, nq-online, ntv, NZWONLINE.DE, Oberhessische Zeitung, Obermain Tagblatt, Peiner Nachrichten, Pfälzischer Merkur,,,, radio Bamberg, Radio Chemnitz, Radio Dresden, Radio EINS, Radio Erzgebirge, Radio Euroherz, Radio Mainwelle, Radio Plassenburg, Regio News, Rhein Neckar Zeitung,,, Ruhr Nachrichten, Saarbrücke Zeitung, Salzgitter Zeitung,, schwäbische, Schwarzwälder Bote,, Siegener Zeitung,, Südwest Presse Online, Suttgarter Nachrichten,, Traunsteiner Tagblatt, Vodafone live!, volksfreund,, Walsroder Zeitung,, WELT, WELT, WESER-KURIER, Westfalen-Blatt, Westfälische Nachrichten, Wetterauer Zeitung, Wiesbadener Kurier, Wiesbadener Tagblatt, Wolfenbütteler Zeitung, Wolfsburger Nachrichten, Wormser Zeitung,,, ZEIT ONLINE, Bocholter Borkener Volksblatt, Ludwigsburger Kreiszeitung, Alsfelder Allgemeine Zeitung,, Boyens Medien, DEWEZET, FELIX RIEFER SAMISDAT-BLOG via dpa

SPIEGEL, 03. März 2018: Wahlforschung: Abgewandert

Heilbronner Stimme, 07. November 2017: Manche Aussiedler „fühlen sich abgelehnt“

Neue OZ, 12. Oktober 2017: AfD, die Partei der Russlanddeutschen?

Neue OZ, 25. September 2017: Wo die AfD null Komma null Prozent der Stimmen holte

Die Presse, 19. September 2017: Deutschland: AfD, die Alternatiwa für Russlanddeutsche

PolSatNews, 19. September 2017: Antyislamska AfD liczy w wyborach na poparcie Niemców z Rosji

MDR, 17. September 2017: Ist die AfD die neue Heimat für Russlanddeutsche?

MDR Aktuell, 15. September 2017: AfD wirbt um Stimmen bei Russlanddeutschen

ARD Tagesschau um 12, 8. September 2017: Türkische Gemeinde Deutschland fordert zur Integration stärkere Teilhabe an Politik

Bremen Zwei, 8. September: Weniger Wähler in der Einwanderungsgesellschaft

Schwäbische Zeitung, 6. September 2017: CDU und AfD kämpfen um Russlanddeutsche

Deutsche Welle, 5. September 2017: Immer mehr Einfluß? Migranten im Wahlkampf

B5 – Das Interkulturelle Magazin, 3. September 2017: Unerforschtes Potenzial – Wähler mit Migrationshintergrund

Capital Bulgaria, 1. September 2017: Russland über Alles

ARD Tagesthemen, 28. August 2017: Russlanddeutsche und die AfD

dpa, 25. August 2017: CDU und AfD locken Russlanddeutsche

ARD-Nachtmagazin, 08. August 2017: Wahllokal: Welche Parteien Menschen mit Migrationshintergrund wählen

RTL Nachtjournal, 03. August 2017: AfD und Russlanddeutsche

Orange by Handelsblatt, 31. Juli 2017: Neue Studie zeigt, warum die AfD bei jungen Russlanddeutschen so beliebt ist

Vedomosti, 7. Juni 2017: Меркель начала борьбу за голоса русских

SWR 2 Kontext, 29. Mai 2017: Wir wollen, dass alles so bleibt, wie es war

B5 - Das interkulturelle Magazin, 21. Mai 2017: Einwanderer gegen Einwanderer? - Die AfD und die Russlanddeutschen

Westfälischer Anzeiger, 1. Mai 2017: Menschen mit Migrationshintergrund werden für Parteien immer wichtiger

DERWESTEN, 25. April 2017: Warum sich so viele Russlanddeutsche für die AfD einsetzen

Rheinische Post, 12. April 2017: Die fremde Wählerschaft

heute+, 27. März 2017: Alle Aufmerksamkeit nach Ankara?

Coolibri, 21. Januar 2017: Große Studie: Wie wählen Deutsche mit Migrationshintergrund bei der Bundestagswahl?

Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung/Neue Ruhr Zeitung, 16. Dezember 2016: Wissenschaftler untersuchen das Wahlverhalten von Migranten


For further information, please contact Jonas Elis per mail: