What determines voting behaviors of Muslim minorities in Europe: Muslim identity or left-right ideology?

Gülseli Baysu, Marc Swyngedouw

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Voting is key to political integration of immigrant-background minorities, but what determines their voting preferences remains unclear. Moreover, dual-citizen minorities can vote differently in their country of residence and origin. Using a representative survey of Turkish-Muslim minorities in two cities in Belgium (N = 447, M_age = 36. 3), we asked whether left-right ideology or religious identity predicted their voting in their country of residence and origin, besides typical predictors of right-wing voting (i.e., efficacy, deprivation, and authoritarianism). Authoritarianism, low political efficacy and high deprivation predicted voting for right-wing parties in Turkey, whereas the latter two, surprisingly, predicted voting for the left in Belgium. Latent class analyses of their religious practices distinguished “moderate” vs “strict” Muslims. While “strict” Muslims voted for right-wing parties in Turkey, ideology did not predict their voting. Conversely, in Belgium, while Muslim identity did not predict their voting, ideology did. Analyzing their combined effects, “moderate” Muslims voted based on their ideology—right-leaning voting for the right, whereas “strict” Muslims voted according to their interests as a disadvantaged minority in Belgium—thus voting for the left—or as a devout Muslim in Turkey—thus voting for the right. Our results elucidate processes underlying the voting behaviors of European-Muslim minorities.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPolitical Psychology
Early online date13 Feb 2020
Publication statusEarly online date - 13 Feb 2020


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