The influx of migrants led to electoral success for right-wing German parties

According to new studies, the size of the population of asylum seekers has an influence on the election results of right-wing parties. “If there are more refugees living in a region, right-wing parties like the NPD, the Republicans, the Right and – from 2016 – the AfD will win more votes,” the Leibniz Institute for Economic Research (RWI) in Essen concluded, summarizing the results of two studies. The effect is independent of the economic development of the region and affects state and federal elections.

Above all, the type of accommodation is decisive. If asylum seekers have to live in central reception facilities, right-wing parties gain votes in both the affected and neighbouring communities, according to a paper published on Monday. If the migrants were housed in decentralized apartments, however, there was no effect.

The scientists therefore recommend that politicians “distribute refugees as evenly as possible over the regions”, in order to avoid polarization of the political discussion. In addition, the asylum seekers should “be housed in decentralized apartments as quickly as possible”.

The two studies produced further provided results related to election outcomes. While the voting shares of traditional popular parties such as the CDU or the SPD have decreased due to the influx of refugees, those of explicitly migration-friendly parties rose.

For example, the Greens in the districts and municipalities examined had made gains. “However, this only applies to regions that are doing well economically. If unemployment is high or the average income of the population is low, there is no or even a negative effect on the election success of the Greens.”

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