Do Enfranchised Immigrants Affect Politicians' Behaviour?

70 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2023 Last revised: 30 Sep 2023

See all articles by Apurav Yash Bhatiya

Apurav Yash Bhatiya

University of Birmingham - Department of Economics

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

Bhatiya, Apurav Yash, Do Enfranchised Immigrants Affect Politicians' Behaviour? (September 28, 2023). Available at SSRN: or

Apurav Yash Bhatiya (Contact Author)

University of Birmingham - Department of Economics

Birmingham Business School
University of Birmingham
Birmingham, B15 2TT
United Kingdom

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