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How does the diaspora vote in Germany?

2023-06-10 14:24:00, Kosova & Bota CNA

How does the diaspora vote in Germany?

After the presidential elections in Turkey, the voting results of voters of Turkish origin in Germany have sparked many debates. While Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan narrowly defeated his opponent Kemal Kilicdaroglu in the May 28 runoff election with around 52% of the vote, two-thirds of those eligible to vote in Germany voted for the autocratic head of state. . And this despite the fact that his voters in Germany enjoy a freedom they can only dream of in Turkey. Voting in the 2018 election was similar.

Where does the discrepancy between voting behavior in Germany and in their home country come from? Part of the answer may lie in the fact that the first Turks to come to Germany in the 1960s came from rural, conservative Anatolia. Yunus Ulusoy from the Center for Turkish Studies at the University of Duisburg-Essen recently told DW that the conservative religious values ??of these people " were preserved especially in the diaspora ".

But Ulusoy also sees reason on the German side: " After 60 years, politicians still find it difficult to clearly identify with these people ". On the other hand, Erdogan is devoted to them, despite the fact that they live in another country and may have citizenship of another country.

How does the diaspora vote in Germany?

There are hardly any Trump fans among American immigrants

The situation is very different for Americans living in Germany. The English-language magazine "Exberliner" had great difficulty finding open supporters of Donald Trump living in Germany in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections. The search for "Berlin's extremely rare species, namely American Republicans" is a " useless work", wrote the magazine. There are no official figures on the voting behavior of immigrants from the US, but most of them may have voted for Democrats.

Democrats Abroad (DA) is the point of reference for Democratic supporters of President Joe Biden abroad. The press spokesperson for the DA in Berlin is Pegi Jones. She explains the inclination towards leftist positions and the Democrats partly with the level of education: "Many American immigrants have a university degree or are studying", she writes for DW. This coincides with the statistics from the most recent presidential elections in the USA. According to this , mostly young and educated voters voted for Democrat Joe Biden.

Jones sees another possible reason: " Most Americans abroad are more left-wing because of what they see in the host country (at least in Europe): universal health insurance, strict gun laws, strong rights for LGBTQ+, etc." The election of Donald Trump meant "that even more people understood what was at stake ".

How does the diaspora vote in Germany?

DW also requested an answer from the relevant organization of Republicans Abroad, Republicans Abroad, but they have not responded.

Lower voter turnout in the diaspora

The international study "External Voting" also addressed the question of why the behavior of voters of immigrant groups with the right to vote may differ from that in their own countries. But this concerns exclusively the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, such as Bulgaria, Latvia , Lithuania, Poland, Romania and the Czech Republic, as well as their respective immigrant communities in western EU countries such as Germany.

According to this study, relevant groups of immigrants " generally vote for more market-oriented parties and are less prone to illiberal, anti-immigrant, populist and authoritarian-nationalist forces than the electorate in their home country", summarizes Kacper Szulecki from Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, one of the authors of the study.

But he cautions against jumping to conclusions: Foreign voter turnout is often much lower than at home, sometimes by 30 percent or more. " This means that the voting behavior of the diaspora communities is not necessarily an accurate description of the voting of these communities ."

Expats are often young and economically successful

But what exactly determines this different voting behavior? The study concludes " that the most important determinant...is socio-demographic rather than ideological ". Diaspora voters from these states, for example, are on average younger and often more economically successful than average.

How does the diaspora vote in Germany?

Kacper Szulecki mentions possible reasons for the deviation of voting behavior: Immigrants abroad, " after living in a functioning welfare state for years ", may vote for parties in their home country that support them - or they experience the opposite and draw consequences from this in the election. Or they may " become radicalized because they feel neglected in the host country " — a possible explanation for Erdogan's popularity among some German Turks, as Sulecki also suspects.

Strong discrepancy in Poland

From the countries of Eastern-Central Europe, especially Poland, voting behavior in the country of origin differs from that of immigrant communities in old EU countries such as Germany. The study has observed this especially since the national conservative Law and Justice party, PiS, took office in 2015.

According to Kacper Sulecki, PiS itself received almost 44 percent of the vote in the 2019 parliamentary elections in Poland, but only 24 percent of Poles in Germany. The alliance of the liberal party, the Civic Coalition, did exactly the opposite: in Poland with about 27 percent, while among the Poles in Germany, 43 percent. Here too, Szulecki sees the reason in the composition of the Polish immigrant community: These people are "often highly qualified, and their determination is determined not only by the best job opportunity, but also by the most attractive lifestyle opportunity" .

But are the differences between diaspora and home country voting behavior diminishing over time or are they increasing? " In general, the differences are growing ", says Kacper Szulecki./ DW

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