The Enduring Effect of Immigration Attitudes on Vote Choice

Evidence from the 2021 German Federal Election

in German Politics and Society
Hannah M. Alarian Political Science, University of Florida

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Immigration attitudes have long been critical in predicting electoral behavior in Western Europe. Whether such attitudes will continue to motivate political behavior in the current pandemic environment is yet to be seen. This article addresses this topic by exploring immigration's prevalence and impact on Germany's 2021 Bundestag election. Combining evidence across multiple German election surveys, I find that immigration remains consequential in shaping political behavior throughout the country. In spite of immigration's reduced political salience, voters continued to view immigration as one of the most important political problems facing Germany. Moreover, immigration-minded voters were significantly more likely to support the Alternative for Germany on the far right and punish the Greens on the left. The article concludes that reducing immigration's salience will not necessarily change its influence over modern German elections.

Contributor Notes

Hannah M. Alarian is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Florida, where she is also an affiliate with the Center for European Studies. Her research focuses on the comparative politics of immigration, examining the relationships among institutions and individual behavior in shaping societal inclusion, public opinion, and national identity in Europe. Her ongoing research project considers the political processes through which immigrants are included in and excluded from their new societies in Western Europe.

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