Reports 2017/10

Immigrants and the 2015 municipal and county council elections

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In 1983, all foreign nationals who had been legal residents in Norway for the three years preceding the local elections were given the right to vote. Over the years, there has been a steady increase in the number of persons with an immigrant background who are entitled to vote. In the 2015 local elections, 551 000 people with an immigrant background were entitled to vote. The number of voters with an immigrant background will continue to increase in the years ahead. In this report, we compare voter turnout and voter behaviour (e.g. party preference) among people with an immigrant background to that of voters without an immigrant background in the local elections in 2015.

14 per cent of the electorate had an immigrant background

Fourteen per cent of eligible voters in 2015 had an immigrant background. A total of 312 000 foreign nationals, 200 000 immigrants who had naturalised in Norway and 34 000 Norwegian-born to immigrant parents were entitled to vote. Most eligible voters with an immigrant background live in Oslo, where the proportion of voters is almost 30 per cent. The largest groups among the foreign nationals are people with a background from the Nordic countries, Western Europe and East European EU/EEA countries. Among immigrants who have naturalised in Norway, Pakistan, Somalia, Iraq and Vietnam are the largest countries. Norwegian-born to immigrant parents mainly have backgrounds from Pakistan, Vietnam, Turkey, Sri Lanka and Morocco.

Consistently low turnout

The total voter turnout at the last local elections was 60 per cent. The figure for immigrants was considerably lower than for non-immigrants. This has been the trend ever since Statistics Norway began examining this area in 1983. In the last election, voter turnout for non-immigrants was 64 per cent. Among naturalised immigrants, the figure was 40 per cent, and foreign nationals had a turnout of 29 per cent.

Immigrants with a background from Africa, Asia and Latin America vote for the Labour Party

Nearly 6 out of 10 immigrants with a background from Africa, Asia and Latin America vote for Labour. Among immigrants with a European background, the level of support for Labour is about the same as for the electorate as a whole, and the support for the governing Conservative Party and the Progress Party is slightly higher than for Labour. The support for the Progress Party is higher among foreign nationals from EU/EEA countries in eastern Europe than in the electorate as a whole. Immigrants with a background from western Europe are strong supporters of the Green Party.

Slight increase in representatives with an immigrant background in Norwegian municipal councils

Following the local elections in 2015, 310 persons in Norwegian municipal councils have an immigrant background, which corresponds to around 3 per cent of all municipal members. After the local elections in 2011, there were 280 representatives. Most of the representatives with an immigrant background represent parties to the left of the political spectrum, such as the Labour Party.

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