Did exposure to asylum seeking migration affect the electoral outcome of the 'Alternative fur Deutschland' in Berlin? Evidence from the 2019 European elections

Pettrachin, A., Gabrielli, L., Kim, J., Ludwig-Dehm, S., Pötzschke, S.
Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 49:2, 576–600 (2023)
Open Access


This article analyses the impact of exposure to asylum-seeking migration during the European ‘refugee crisis’ on votes for the far-right Alternative für Deutschland at the 2019 European elections in Berlin. While other scholars investigated the relationship between locals’ exposure to asylum-seekers and far-right voting, we analyse this relationship at a very small scale (electoral district level), adopting an innovative methodological approach, based on geo-localization techniques and high-resolution spatial statistics. Furthermore, we assess the impact on this relationship of some previously neglected variables. Through spatial regression models, we show that exposure to asylum-seeking migration is negatively correlated with AfD vote shares, which provides support for so-called ‘contact theory’ and that the relationship is stronger in better-off districts. Remarkably, the relationship is weaker in districts containing bigger reception centres, which suggests that the effects of asylum-seeking migration depend on the perceived contact intensity (and, therefore, a moderating effect of reception centre size). Finally, the effects of districts’ socio-economic deprivation on the relationship between exposure to asylum-seeking migration and AfD vote shares is different in districts located in former East and West Berlin, which suggests an effect of socio-cultural history on the relationship between exposure to migration and far-right voting.

Schlagwörter: Berlin, Berlin, Ost, Berlin, West, Deutschland, international migration, political science, refugees, spatial analysis
Das Max-Planck-Institut für demografische Forschung (MPIDR) in Rostock ist eines der international führenden Zentren für Bevölkerungswissenschaft. Es gehört zur Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, einer der weltweit renommiertesten Forschungsgemeinschaften.