Inclusive Electoral Institutions and Political Efficacy of Immigrants in Diverse Democracies

March 18, 2021 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm Europe/Rome Timezone
Valentina Bettin

Today, immigrants constitute a sizeable share of the electorate in many advanced democracies. Despite this, there has been limited attention paid to the institutional conditions and, more broadly, contextual factors that influence ethnic minority voters’ political incorporation. More specifically, we know little about how immigrants’ efficacy perceptions are shaped even though the dynamics of efficacy have been at the center of extant work on democratic representation and electoral participation. To remedy this, the seminar session investigates whether more inclusive political contexts positively shape the efficacy perceptions of ethnic voters in host democracies. As a highly effective marker of immigrant-inclusive systems, we focus on alien enfranchisement. We argue that living in an electorally immigrant-inclusive context extending voting rights to all long-term residents relates to higher internal and external efficacy among voters with an immigration background through a logic of perceived equal treatment, acceptance, recognition, and responsiveness. Notably, we also assess whether such expansion is associated with a subsequent decline in efficacy among natives. Empirically, we focus on the case of Switzerland and exploit the sub-national variation in local electoral institutions using longitudinal data from the Swiss Household Panel from 1999 to 2016. Next, we extend our argument and illustrate efficacy gaps due to ethnicity using cross-sectional data from the European and World Values Survey. The paper that will be presented during the seminar adds essential corrections to earlier work by proposing that immigrants’ political integration is not merely a function of individual characteristics but may also be related to the contexts in which they are received in the host democracies.


Prof. Maarten Vink


Elif Naz Kayran Meier
Anna-Lena Nadler