Electoral Discrimination Against Immigrant-Origin Candidates
This article explores the Electoral Discrimination thesis, according to which voters tend to discriminate against minority candidates. The free-list PR system used in Swiss elections—which allows voters to cast negative preference votes against candidates they do not want to support—offers a unique opportunity to test this thesis. Specifically, we analyze the relationship between immigrant-origin candidates bearing non-Swiss names and the negative preference votes allocated by voters to single candidates. Using a novel research strategy, based on election data stemming from our analysis of real ballots cast in the 2014 local elections in the Canton of Zurich, the article shows that candidates with non-Swiss names incur a significant electoral penalty. The effects of Electoral Discrimination are stronger, however, among supporters of parties from the Right and Center-Right. Interestingly, candidates bearing non-Swiss but Western names do not fare better than candidates with names of non-Western origin. We argue that our results have important implications for the comparative literature interested in electoral systems and minority representation.
KeywordsElectoral systems Electoral behavior Minority representation Immigrant-origin minorities Discrimination
We thank Daniel Diaz and Corine Truxius for their assistance in coding, and Luca Gambazzi for his support with data processing. We are grateful to Edith Wiederkehr and Beat Lutta from the Zurich cantonal statistical office for kindly providing us access to the electoral software. Earlier versions of this article were presented at the MPSA 2016 Annual Conference in Chicago, the ECPR 2016 Joint Sessions in Pisa, the IPSA 2016 World Congress of Political Science in Poznan, and at seminars held in November 2016 at the University of Lucerne and the University of Neuchâtel. We thank the participants at these events for their feedback. We also thank Andrea de Angelis, Marc Bühlmann, Lucas Leemann, Didier Ruedin, Andreas Schädel and Oliver Strijbis for their very helpful written comments. Last but not least, we gratefully acknowledge Peter Cook’s excellent assistance in editing the text and the financial support of the Swiss National Science Foundation (Grant Number PZ00P1_154983).
- Achen, C. H., & Bartels, L. M. (2016). Democracy for realists: Why elections do not produce responsive government. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Ahmed, A. (2013). Democracy and the politics of electoral system choice. Engineering electoral dominance. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Allik, M. (2015). Who stands in the way of women? Open vs. closed lists and candidate gender in Estonia. East European Politics, 31(4), 429–451.Google Scholar
- Auer, D., Bonoli, G., & Fossati, F. (2015). It’s discrimination, stupid: Labour market (re-) entry difficulties among different immigrant groups in Switzerland. (“NCCR On the Move” Working Paper No. 2, June 2015). Retrieved September 21, 2017 from http://nccr-onthemove.ch/wp_live14/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/nccrotm-WPS2-Auer-Bonoli-Fossati.pdf.
- Banducci, S. A., Karp, J. A., Thrasher, M., & Rallings, C. (2008). Ballot photographs as cues in low-information elections. Political Psychology, 29(6), 903–917.Google Scholar
- Barth, S. K., Mittag, N., & Park, K. H. (2017). Marginal voters and their racial prejudice. Retrieved September 21, 2017 from http://home.cerge-ei.cz/mittag/papers/minority_disadvantage.pdf.
- Bird, K., Saalfeld, T., & Wüst, A. (Eds.). (2010). The political representation of immigrants and minorities: Voters, parties and parliaments in liberal democracies. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Black, J. (2008). Ethnoracial minorities in the 38th parliament: Patterns of change and continuity. In C. Andrew, J. Biles, M. Siemiatycki, & E. Tolley (Eds.), Electing a diverse Canada: The representation of immigrants, minorities and women (pp. 229–254). Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.Google Scholar
- Black, J., & Erickson, L. (2006). Ethno-racial origins of candidates and electoral performance. Evidence from Canada. Party Politics, 12(4), 541–561.Google Scholar
- Blank, R. M., Marilyn, D., & Citro, C. F. (Eds.). (2004). Measuring racial discrimination. Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Sciences.Google Scholar
- Bloemraad, I. (2013). Accessing the corridors of power: Puzzles and pathways to understanding minority representation. West European Politics, 36(3), 652–670.Google Scholar
- Brouard, S., & Tiberj, V. (2011). Yes they can: An experimental approach to the eligibility of ethnic minority candidates in France. In K. Bird, T. Saalfeld, & A. Wüst (Eds.), The political representation of immigrants and minorities. Voters, parties and parliaments (pp. 164–180). Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Butler, D. M., & Broockman, D. E. (2011). Do politicians racially discriminate against constituents? A field experiment on state legislators. American Journal of Political Science, 55(3), 463–477.Google Scholar
- Carey, J. M., & Shugart, M. S. (1995). Incentives to cultivate a personal vote: A rank ordering of electoral formulas. Electoral Studies, 14(4), 417–439.Google Scholar
- Cribari-Neto, F., & Zeileis, A. (2009). Beta regression in R. Retrieved September 21, 2017 from http://epub.wu.ac.at/726/.
- Cutler, F. (2002). The simplest shortcut of all: Sociodemographic characteristics and electoral choice. The Journal of Politics, 64(2), 466–490.Google Scholar
- Dancygier, R. M. (2014). Electoral rules or electoral leverage? Explaining Muslim representation in England. World Politics, 66(2), 229–263.Google Scholar
- Dancygier, R. M. (2017). Dilemmas of inclusion. Muslims in European politics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Dancygier, R. M., Lindgren, K. O., Oskarsson, S., & Vernby, K. (2015). Why are immigrants underrepresented in politics? Evidence from Sweden. American Political Science Review, 109(4), 703–724.Google Scholar
- Engelen, B., & Nys, T. R. V. (2013). Against the secret ballot: Toward a new proposal for open voting. Acta Politica, 48(4), 490–507.Google Scholar
- Eurostat. 2011. Migrants in Europe: A statistical portrait of the first and second generation. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. Retrieved September 21, 2017 from http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/documents/3217494/5727749/KS-31-10-539-EN.PDF/bcf27a60-7016-4fec-98c5-e8488491ebbd.
- Farrell, D. M. (2011). Electoral systems. A comparative introduction (2nd ed.). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
- Ferrari, S. L. P., & Cribari-Neto, F. (2004). Beta regression for modelling rates and proportions. Journal of Applied Statistics, 31(7), 799–815.Google Scholar
- Fibbi, R. (2006). Discrimination dans l’accès à l’emploi des jeunes d’origine immigrée en Suisse. Formation emploi, 94, 45–58.Google Scholar
- Fisher, S. D., Heath, A. F., Sanders, D., & Sobolewska, M. (2015). Candidate ethnicity and vote choice in Britain. British Journal of Political Science, 45(4), 883–905.Google Scholar
- Fossati, F., Liechti, F., Auer, D., & Bonoli, G. (2017). Discrimination multipliers. How immigrant’s integration affects labour market disadvantage. MIM Working Paper Series, 17(2). Retrieved November 21, 2017 from https://www.mah.se/upload/Forskningscentrum/MIM/WPS%2017.2%20%20Fossatti.pdf.
- Gelman, A., & Hill, J. (2007). Data analysis using regression and multilevel/hierarchical models. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Hainmueller, J., & Hangartner, D. (2013). Who gets a Swiss passport? A natural experiment in immigrant discrimination. American Political Science Review, 107(1), 159–187.Google Scholar
- Hellman, D. (2008). When is discrimination wrong? Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Hellmann, D., & Moreau, S. (Eds.). (2013). Philosophical foundations of discrimination law. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Hermann, M., & Leuthold, H. (2003). Atlas der politischen Landschaften. Zurich: vdf.Google Scholar
- Highton, B. (2004). White voters and African American candidates for Congress. Political Behavior, 26(1), 1–25.Google Scholar
- Hine, D. (2006). Electoral systems, party law and the protection of minorities. Strasbourg: Council of Europe. Retrieved September 21, 2017 from https://rm.coe.int/1680097cab.
- IDEA (2005). Electoral system design: The new international IDEA handbook. Stockholm: IDEA. Retrieved September 21, 2017 from http://www.idea.int/sites/default/files/publications/electoral-system-design-the-new-international-idea-handbook.pdf.
- Jacobs, D., Martiniello, M., & Rea, A. (2002). Changing patterns of political participation of citizens of immigrant origin in the Brussels capital region: The October 2000 elections. Journal of International Migration and Integration, 3(2), 201–221.Google Scholar
- Klingemann, H. D. (Ed.). (2009). The comparative study of electoral systems. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Lau, R. R., & Redlawsk, D. P. (2006). How voters decide. Information processing in election campaigns. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- le Lohé, M. (1993). Ethnic minority candidates in general elections. Political Quarterly, 64(1), 107–117.Google Scholar
- Lippert-Rasmussen, K. (Ed.). (2018). The Routledge handbook of the ethics of discrimination. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Lublin, D. (2014). Minority rules. Electoral systems, decentralization and ethnoregional party success. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Lupia, A. (1994). Shortcuts versus encyclopedias: Information and voting behavior in California insurance reform elections. American Political Science Review, 88(1), 63–76.Google Scholar
- Lutz, G. (2010). First come, first served: The effect of ballot position on electoral success in open ballot PR elections. Representation, 46(2), 167–181.Google Scholar
- Lutz, G. (2011). Open ballot. In J. M. Colomer (Ed.), Personal representation. The neglected dimension of electoral systems (pp. 153–174). Colchester: ECPR Press.Google Scholar
- Mansbridge, J. (1999). Should blacks represent blacks and women represent women? A contingent “yes”. The Journal of Politics, 61(3), 628–657.Google Scholar
- Matland, R. E. (2005). Enhancing women’s political participation: Legislative recruitment and electoral systems. In J. Ballington & A. Karam (Eds.), Women in parliaments: Beyond numbers (pp. 93–111). Stockholm: International IDEA.Google Scholar
- Matson, M., & Fine, T. S. (2006). Gender, ethnicity, and ballot information: Ballot cues in low-information elections. State Politics & Policy Quarterly, 6(1), 49–72.Google Scholar
- McDermott, M. L. (1998). Race and gender cues in low-information elections. Political Research Quarterly, 51(4), 895–918.Google Scholar
- Moskowitz, D., & Stroh, P. (1994). Psychological sources of electoral racism. Political Psychology, 15(2), 307–329.Google Scholar
- Norris, P., & Lovenduski, J. (1993). “If only more candidates came forward”: Supply-side explanations of candidate selection in Britain. British Journal of Political Science, 23(3), 373–408.Google Scholar
- Piston, S. (2010). How explicit racial prejudice hurt Obama in the 2008 election. Political Behavior, 32(4), 431–451.Google Scholar
- Popkin, S. L. (1991). The reasoning voter. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Riggle, E. D., Ottati, V. C., Wyer, R. S., Kuklinski, J., & Schwarz, N. (1992). Bases of political judgments: The role of stereotypic and nonstereotypic information. Political Behavior, 14(1), 67–87.Google Scholar
- Rosenberg, S. W., Bohan, L., McCafferty, P., & Harris, K. (1986). The image and the vote. American Journal of Political Science, 30(1), 108–127.Google Scholar
- Ruedin, D. (2013). Why aren’t they there? The political representation of women, ethnic groups and issue positions in legislatures. Colchester: ECPR Press.Google Scholar
- Saggar, S., & Geddes, A. (2000). Negative and positive racialisation: Re-examining ethnic minority political representation in the UK. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 26(1), 25–44.Google Scholar
- Selb, P., & Lutz, G. (2015). Lone fighters: Intraparty competition, interparty competition, and candidates’ vote seeking efforts in open-ballot PR elections. Electoral Studies, 39, 329–337.Google Scholar
- Sigelman, C. K., Sigelman, L., Walkosz, B. J., & Nitz, M. (1995). Black candidates, white voters: Understanding racial bias in political perceptions. American Journal of Political Science, 39(1), 243–265.Google Scholar
- Sniderman, P. M., Brody, R. A., & Tetlock, P. E. (1991). The role of heuristics in political reasoning: A theory sketch. In P. M. Sniderman, A. B. Richard, & P. E. Tetlock (Eds.), Reasoning and choice: Explorations in political psychology (pp. 14–30). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Snijders, T. A. B., & Bosker, R. J. (2012). Multilevel analysis. An introduction to basic and advanced multilevel modeling (2nd ed.). London: SAGE Publications.Google Scholar
- Soltas, E. J., & Broockman, D. E. (2017). A natural experiment on taste-based racial and ethnic discrimination in elections. (Stanford University Graduate School of Business Research Paper, Nr. 3499). Retrieved September 21, 2017 from https://ssrn.com/abstract=2919664.
- Steenbergen, M. R., & Jones, B. S. (2002). Multilevel data structures. American Journal of Political Science, 46(1), 218–237.Google Scholar
- Street, A. (2014). Representation despite discrimination: Minority candidates in Germany. Political Research Quarterly, 67(2), 374–385.Google Scholar
- Strijbis, O. (2014). Migration background and voting behavior in Switzerland: A Socio-psychological explanation. Swiss Political Science Review, 20(4), 612–631.Google Scholar
- Thrasher, M., Borisyuk, G., Rallings, C., & Webber, R. (2017). Candidate ethnic origins and voter preferences: Examining name discrimination in local elections in Britain. British Journal of Political Science, 47(2), 413–435.Google Scholar
- Voss, S. D., & Lublin, D. (1996). Black incumbents, white districts: An appraisal of the 1996 congressional elections. American Politics Research, 29(2), 141–182.Google Scholar
- Wanner, P., & Steiner, I. (2012). La naturalisation en Suisse. Evolution 1992–2010. Berne: Federal Commission for Migration. Retrieved March 28, 2017 from https://www.ekm.admin.ch/dam/data/ekm/dokumentation/materialien/mat_einbuerg_f.pdf.
- Zollinger, D., & Bochsler, D. (2002). Minority representation in semi-democratic regime: The Georgian case. Democratization, 19(4), 611–641.Google Scholar