Reports 2015/33

Electoral turnout among persons with immigrant background

Possible effects if the electoral turnout was similar among persons with and without immigrant background

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Voter turnout among people with an immigrant background in parliamentary elections and municipal and county elections is lower than in the majority population. Immigrant background includes persons with two foreign-born parents and four foreign-born grandparents.

In the last parliamentary elections, the average voter turnout for immigrants and Norwegian-born with immigrant parents was 53 and 51 per cent respectively. By comparison, the turnout was nearly 80 per cent in the majority population.

In the municipal and county elections, foreign nationals who have been included in the National Population Register as resident in Norway for the three years prior to election day, or who are nationals of another Nordic country and have been included in the Norwegian National Population Register as resident in Norway no later than 30 June in the year of the election are also entitled to vote.

In the local elections in 2011, the turnout for foreign nationals was 32 per cent, 43 per cent for Norwegian citizens with an immigrant background and 66 per cent for the general population.

In this report we try to analyse the effects on party distribution if the turnout had been the same for voters with an immigrant background and voters without an immigrant background. We do this by using sample surveys among voters, as well as aggregated data from municipal elections in Oslo in 2011. Party distribution among immigrants is based on small sample surveys conducted by Statistics Norway in connection with the local elections in 2011 and parliamentary elections in 2013. The number of respondents in these sample surveys is much smaller than we normally use in our analyses. Immigrants are far from a homogeneous group and the low number of observations makes it difficult to take into account all relevant parameters, such as age, reason for immigration, length of residence, education, occupation, etc. in the analysis. The data however, enables an analysis of some possible main effects if we want to consider party distribution in the Norwegian elections if voter turnout was about the same among people with and without an immigrant background. The analysis shows that if the turnout was virtually the same among people of immigrant origin and the majority population there would be a small change in the party distribution. The Labour Party would have increased its share of voters, while the Conservatives and the Progress Party would lose their share of voters. The changes are not extensive, and are hardly likely to change the political landscape in Norway. Most likely, the same parties would have formed the government after the 2013 election, and the same parties would have formed the city council in Oslo.

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