Public Attitudes Towards Migration and Migrant Voting Behavior

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from: 11:30
to: 12:30

Join us for the next edition of our Migration Working Group at the EUI.


Follow the Media? Explaining Public Concern with Immigration in the 2000s’, by Mariana Carmo Duarte, PhD Researcher (Department of Political and Social Science, EUI)


We examine to what extent media coverage affects the public concern with immigration. Data come from an extensive claims-making analysis of newspapers in seven Western European countries between 2002 and 2009, and the Eurobarometer. The continuous sample of news coverage is aggregated into a biannual panel, and we relate these data to citizens’ perception of the most important problem half a year later (lagged). We show that immigration is considered more important when there is more coverage of immigration in the newspapers. We suggest that fluctuations in public concern with immigration are more likely affected by patterns of media coverage than ‘policy gaps’, and that the continuous implementation of immigration-related legislation will increase rather than reduce public concern. If accommodative approaches to radical-right parties increase salience of immigration in the news, this will also boost public concern with immigration. We conclude that researchers should take into consideration the media to better understand public concerns with immigration.

Discussant: James Dennison


Ties and Trust: Migrant Motives to (Not) Vote in Two Countries’, by Victoria Finn, Max Weber Fellow (EUI)


What motivates migrants to vote or abstain over time in two countries? Taking individuals as both immigrants in the residence country and emigrants for the origin country, I examine their voting behavior in national elections. My evidence comes from Ecuador, one of the most inclusive demos worldwide, which took eleven years, from 1998 to 2009, to enfranchise nonresident nationals and foreign residents. Based on 71 semi-structured interviews conducted in 2019 with Latin American migrants residing in Ecuador, the three most reported reasons for migrant voting are, a) ties to family and the territory, b) wanting a better future, and c) formal recognition from the state. Their main reasons for abstaining are a lack of ties and distrust in politics or voting procedures. Ties and trust are dynamic over time, changing throughout political socialization and resocialization, i.e., the ongoing learning process during which individuals maintain or adjust political attitudes, values, and behavior. I argue that ties and trust are major components in understanding migrant motivations to (not) vote in two countries.

Discussant: Leiza Brumat

Want to read more about public attitudes to migration? Check out our recent blog on ‘Taxation with representation? How do resident citizens feel about enfranchisement of non-citizen residents?‘.