How will Germans with foreign roots vote on Sunday?

The number of voters with a migration background, meaning that they or their parents were not born as German citizens, is growing. The SVR Forschungsbereich, a research group, presented an investigation in November 2016 that shows the parties with the strongest appeal among Germany’s migrants, providing a hint on how they will vote as the nation goes to the polls to elect the 19th Bundestag on Sunday, 24 September.

At the Bundestag elections in 2013, one in ten voters had a migration background – which were around 5.8 million people. In 2015, according to the micro census, there were already around 6 million persons entitled to vote from immigrant families. In addition, there are about 5 million foreigners who would fulfil the conditions for naturalization and thus also be entitled to vote. The electoral potential of people with a migration background is therefore already high and will continue to increase.

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Which parties do migrant voters prefer?

A representative study of the SVR Forschungsbereich of ​​2016 indicated that 70% of respondents with a migration background felt represented by a party. As a result, the proportion was similar to that of respondents without a migration background. According to the study, the SPD is the most popular party among the migrants and their descendants, followed by the CDU/CSU.

In addition, the study confirms that the party preferences vary significantly from one source of migrant origin to another. For example, the vast majority of Turks are closest to the SPD while ethnic German resettlers or Spätaussiedler (ethnic Germans from the successor states of the former Soviet Union and from other Eastern European countries) most often prefer the CDU/CSU.

Generally, voters with a migrant background tend to prefer “parties from the political left,” according to political scientist Andreas Wüst. Those parties tend to be more open towards people with a migrant background and their concerns.

The SPD was among the first to push for a dual citizenship and the rights of migrants. Therefore, a significant number of migrant voters with non-European roots generally vote to the Social Democrats.

According to a study published by the expert council on integration and migration, 70 percent of all Turks support the SPD – that number is twice as high as in the general electorate. Support for the Greens is also significantly higher among Turkish-Germans compared to the overall electorate.

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Voter turnout of Germans with foreign roots

People with a migration background are less likely to cast their votes at the Bundestag elections than other electors. At the election, about 75 per cent of people with a migration background voted while for Germans without a migration background, the figure was 87 per cent.

It is striking that there are differences in the electoral participation rate between the first and second generation migrants: 70.8 per cent of the first-generation migrant voters participated in the election while the figure for the second generation was 79.2 per cent.

How many Bundestag members have a migration background?

There are 37 parliamentarians in the Bundestag with a migration background, accounting for only 5.9 per cent of the 631 parliamentarians. Measured by their population share (around 19 per cent), people with a migration background are clearly underrepresented in the Bundestag.

A look at the migrant MPs and their parties shows that Die Linke with 12.5 per cent and Bündnis 90/Die Grünen (11.1 percent) recorded the highest proportion of MPs with a migration background. The SPD has the highest number of legislators with a migrant background with 13 politicians, but compared to the total number of its MPs, migrant parliamentarians account for only 6.7 per cent in the faction. The Christian Union parties are at the bottom of the list, with 3.1 per cent for the CDU and 1.8 per cent for the Bavarian CSU.

Femi Awoniyi

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