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The Masks of the Political God by Luca Ozzano

Why Do Immigrants Support an Anti-Immigrant Party? The Case of Russian-Germans and the Alternative for Germany

Electoral Behaviour
Achim Goerres
University of Duisburg-Essen
Achim Goerres
University of Duisburg-Essen

Reaching a vote share of 12.6% in the last federal election, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) recently ended Germany’s rare status as a Western European polity lacking a significant Populist Radical-Right Party (PRRP). While the AfD continues to enjoy high levels of electoral support, some of this stems from a social group usually not being suspected of voting for PRRPs: immigrants. In fact, 15% of “Russian-Germans”, i.e. people from Post-Soviet Russia and its successor states, reported a vote choice for the AfD in the federal election of 2017.
What does Russian-Germans, forming Germanys biggest group of immigrant voters, motivate to support the openly anti-immigrant AfD? Theoretically, we differentiate between the well-known standard drivers of PRRP support (anti-immigrant sentiments, disenchantment with politics, class, gender, income, etc.) and variables that might be relevant only to the group of Russian-Germans (ethnic identity, discrimination experiences, foreign policies related to Russia, etc.). Analytically, we compare Russian-Germans to the group of native voters, using recent high-quality survey data for both. Being the first quantitative study analysing immigrant voters’ support for an PRRP (for Germany and – as far as we know – also for Europe), our tentative results indicate that both theoretical perspectives are informative: Russian-Germans are closer to the group of AfD supporters in many of the standard explanatory variables but are also motivated by certain immigrant-specific characteristics, most notably their ethnic identity.

Authored by Dennis Spies, Sabrina Mayer, Achim Goerres, Jonas Elis
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