Do Enfranchised Immigrants Affect Politicians' Behaviour?
80 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2023 Last revised: 30 Sep 2023
Date Written: September 28, 2023
This paper delves into the political ramifications of immigrants' enfranchisement in the UK- a unique context wherein immigrants from Ireland and the Commonwealth enjoy immediate voting rights upon arrival in all elections, while other immigrants are not similarly privileged. Using a shift-share design, I instrument immigrants' location based on prior settlement patterns. Drawing on text analysis of parliamentary speeches and voting patterns on immigration bills spanning 1972 to 2011, my findings reveal that MPs with heightened exposure to enfranchised immigrants are more vocal in parliament about issues affecting immigrants positively. However, these MPs concurrently support stricter immigration curbs. The findings suggest a nuanced response: while enfranchisement amplifies immigrants' political engagement, it drives politicians to counteract the political costs by curbing future immigration, possibly to appease natives.
Keywords: Enfranchisement, Immigrants, Commonwealth, Discourse, Parliament.
JEL Classification: J15, D72, F22, J61, P16
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation