The Political Participation of Immigrants

22 Pages Posted: 11 Jan 2016

Date Written: January 10, 2016


Political participation is an essential part of modern democracies. Where foreign citizens are enfranchised, it is frequently observed that immigrants and individuals of immigrant origin participate less than non-immigrants: a participation gap. This paper uses newly collected individual-level data to examine the correlates of the participation gap in the 2015 municipal elections in the Canton of Geneva. A representative sample of individuals eligible to vote in municipal elections is used, drawing on questions from the Swiss electoral study to examine political participation, enriched with questions relevant to immigrant origin. Four explanations are tested: differences in social origin, understanding of the political space, social integration and networks, as well as socialization. None of these explanations can account for the entirety of the participation gap and differences between (groups of) nationalities remain. Differences in predicted probabilities to vote are smallest in models that account for social origin and socialization respectively.

Keywords: political participation, immigration, turnout, election

Suggested Citation

Ruedin, Didier, The Political Participation of Immigrants (January 10, 2016). Available at SSRN: or

Didier Ruedin (Contact Author)

University of Neuch√Ętel ( email )

Rue Abram-Louis-Breguet 2
Neuchatel, CH-2000


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