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People born abroad more likely to vote for specific candidates

Voter from abroad: Not just my right, but also my responsibility
5:51 min
Hand som sträcker sig efter valsedlar
A tick in the box before a name on a list is a way to try to move that candidate up the list. Credit: DRAGO PRVULOVIC / TT

People born abroad vote in the Swedish elections to a lesser extent than people who are born here, but when they do, they are more likely to vote for specific candidates, than for a party in general.

It is one year until the election, and in a new report from the Migration Studies Delegation, researchers have focused on the voting behaviour of people born abroad, but who are eligible to vote in Sweden. When one has been a resident in Sweden for three years, one can vote in local elections in Sweden, and becoming a Swedish citizen means getting the right to vote in the national parliament elections.

In 2014, nine out of ten people born in Sweden voted in the national election, but only just over seven out of ten people who were born abroad - but eligible to vote - did so. And in the local elections, only one in three of those with a non-Swedish passport chose to vote, even if they had the right to do so.

But in the longer run, there is a risk that democracy is undermined if large groups do not participate in the electoral system, says Pieter Bevelander, who is a professor of International Migration and Ethnic Relations at Malmö University, and the editor of the report.

One way that people born abroad differ from people born in Sweden, when it comes to voting, is that those born elsewhere are more likely to put that special tick in front of the name of a specific candidate on the ballot paper, which means they want to try to nudge that candidate up the list.

This has been an option in the last five elections in Sweden. In that period, slightly less than a quarter of the voters born in Sweden have, on average, taken the opportunity to express a preference for a specific candidate, while more than one in three of the voters born abroad do the same, according to a chapter in the report written by Linda Berg, from Gothenburg University.

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