chapter  3
41 Pages

Party choices among immigrants and visible minorities in comparative perspective

If immigrants and their descendants participate in elections they have the potential to change the outcomes of those contests and, consequently, the composition of government. They become subjects, and even agents of politics, rather than objects of policy. From the perspective of political sociology, the most interesting question is whether patterns of migrant and minority voter choice are different from patterns among the non-migrant and non-minority population. Where this is the case, immigrants and their descendants may have a lasting impact on party competition, and also potentially on policy issues such as immigration and citizenship, anti-discrimination and racial equality, and international affairs. This chapter surveys research on party choice in 11 liberal democracies. The contributors report on available data for national, regional and local elections, focusing on the party choices of immigrants and minorities compared to the majority population. In their overviews, the authors also seek to address potential explanatory factors of migrant and minority voter choice according to the three dominant approaches for analysing electoral behaviour: socio-demographic characteristics (Columbia School); long-term attachments, and the role of issues and candidates (Michigan School); economic calculus and ideological proximity (Rational Choice). In addition, the specific party political context in each country is discussed.