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The Mobilizing Effects of Political Media Consumption Among Non-Resident Citizens

Integration
Media
Migration
Political Participation
Electoral Behaviour
Mobilisation
Voting Behaviour
Staffan Himmelroos
University of Helsinki
Staffan Himmelroos
University of Helsinki
Åsa von Schoultz
University of Helsinki
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Abstract

Information is key to mobilization and participation in elections. Via media citizens get information about topical political issues and about party and candidate stances on those issues. Today, through digital and traditional news media, voters have access to more information than ever before, both within and across national boarders. This development is especially relevant in relation to non-resident citizens, whose participation in home country elections has received increasing attention in recent years. Not only are external citizens of different countries increasingly likely to be enfranchised, they are also offered improved opportunities to engage in home country elections through e.g. postal ballot policies. With the changed media landscape follows that it has become easier for non-resident citizens to keep themselves informed about political affairs in their former home country. The mobilization effects of media consumption among non-resident citizens is, however, more complex than for resident citizens, as their media consumption can be oriented toward the home country or host country or likely both to varying degrees. While national boarders no longer limit access to information, we know little about the extent to which non-resident citizens balance their political media consumption between their home and host country, and the extent to which this balance has an impact on their electoral participation. In this study, we set out to explore the mobilizing effect of political media consumption among non-resident citizens. We compare patterns of media consumption across groups of non-resident citizens (in home and host country) in order to disentangle how it is related to electoral participation from abroad. To answer these questions, we make use of a recent survey (2019) conducted among a stratified random sample of non-resident Swedish-speaking Finns in 15 countries. The questionnaire, answered by 1971 respondents, was based on the European Values Study complemented with questions relating specifically to the experience of being a non-resident citizen. For this study we mainly rely on eight items measuring how they use media to follow politics in the home and the host country, when explaining their reported participation in the 2019 Finnish parliamentary elections. However, the broad scope of the survey, and the relatively large number of countries included in the survey, allows us to control for the influence of large variety of individual level variables and contextual variables related to host country, when modelling the relationship between politically media consumption and the electoral participation of non-resident citizens.