With one year left before Sweden’s parliamentary elections, a group of 12 researchers have completed a report on the voting behavior and political representation of foreigners, foreign-born Swedes, and native Swedes. The study was carried out by The Migration Studies Delegation (Delmi) whose findings are used as a basis for Sweden’s migration policies.
The report showed that not only is the voting participation among people born in Africa and Asia significantly lower than among other Swedes, but warned that due to current migration trends, this gap is at risk of widening, at the cost of a balanced and well-functioned democracy.
“Among Swedish citizens with origins in the Nordics, North America, Oceania and Latin America, voting participation was at around 80 percent, while the share of Swedes who voted and were born in Africa and Asia was below 70 percent,” the report said.
“If democracy loses its legitimacy among large groups in society, there’s a risk it will shake to its core.”
Commenting on the findings in an opinion piece in Dagens Nyheter, authors and researchers Pieter Bevelander and Mikael Spång wrote that: “The fact that most of those who immigrate to Sweden today come from these regions indicates that voter participation could fall further in the future.”
“Two important factors to explain this are level of education and revenues. We know since previously that individuals with lower wages and education vote less. Foreign-born Swedes are overrepresented in both those groups.”
The report also found that Swedes born abroad, or with parents of foreign origin, tend to vote more left-wing: on the governing Social Democrats and the Left Party.
Another interesting find is the wide gap between Swedes' and foreign-born Swedes' representation in politics. Delmi said that on a local level, socio-economic factors like education, profession and revenue, only play a minor role. Instead, it has to do with the fact that most foreign-born Swedes live in larger municipalities where a person seeking a political mandate will need more votes than in smaller municipalities.
When it comes to internal party recruitments, Delmi said knowledge, the political language used and networks seemed to be deciding factors.
“The roles as a ‘migrant politician’ can offer an inroad to politics, but can, in the long run, also become an obstacle for a continued political career.”
The Delmi report is being presented at a seminar at the government on Wednesday.