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DFG-Project "Immigrant German Election Study"

Funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG)

Duration of the project: October 2016 - September 2019


PD Dr. Dennis Spies, Universität zu Köln, Germany

Prof. Dr. Achim Goerres, Universität Duisburg-Essen, Germany


The proposed project aims to carry out the first German election study among Germans with a migration background in the context of the German Federal Election of 2017. It therefore focuses exclusively on German voters who either migrated to Germany themselves or who have at least one migrant parent. While this definition covers 8.76 Mio people, there is a lack of research analyzing this group’s voting behavior (turnout and vote choice) mainly due to the lack of high-quality data. On the theoretical side, there are some models to explain the turnout of immigrant voters but nearly none for explaining their vote choice. The scientific study of the political integration of migrant populations is of substantial social and political relevance.

For electoral research, voters with migrant background provide a theoretically interesting group, since their political socialization differs from the experiences of the native population in many ways. Whether established theories of electoral research can also explain the voting behavior of voters with migrant background, or whether this is determined predominantly by migrant-specific characteristics, therefore is the central research objective of the proposed project.

Methodologically, we intend to conduct a post-election-survey for two immigrant groups in the context of the German Federal Election of 2017. In contrast to established German election surveys - such as the German Longitudinal Election Study (GLES) - we will only sample the voting age population with a migrant background to reach a number of cases necessary for powerful statistical analyses. The applied sampling procedure uses a stratified random sampling based on the population register and onomastic methods. Surveying 500 respondents for each of the two largest immigrant groups in Germany (German citizens of Turkish descent [about 1.3 million people] and Russian-speaking Late Resettlers with German citizenship [about 2.4 million people]) is our objective, resulting in a total sample size of 1.000.

The detailed wording of multi-lingual available questionnaire is still in development but will consist of two groups of items. First, it consists of survey items well-established in electoral research that should resemble the items used in the GLES-survey to ensure comparability with the group of native voters. Second, it consists of items that capture several migrant-specific characteristics (e.g. type of citizenship, membership in ethnic organizations and ethnic identity) that are not asked for in the GLES. The high-quality sample can be used in further studies after this project by collecting the respondents’ willingness to be re-interviewed.

For more information, please visit the original website:  Immigrant German Election Study