Right-wing voters in Germany
The effects of immigrant and unemployment rates on the radical right success vary considerably between different regions in Germany. This is what WZB researcher Céline Teney is highlighting in her article for the Zeitschrift für Soziologie. The social scientist has analysed election results of the NPD, the most prominent extreme right-wing political party, in all 299 electoral districts (Wahlkreise) during the 2009 German federal election.
Teney´s findings do not support the group threat hypothesis. She could not find more extremist attitudes in regions with more immigrants and high unemployment rates. On the contrary, there are indications which confirm the contact hypothesis: The more ethnic diversity, the less right-wing votes. This correlation however applies particularly for the Eastern part of Germany, and not so much for the old West German states with their strong migration tradition. Teney concludes: “Obviously, the effect of contact opportunities on anti-immigrant attitudes becomes weaker as the proportion of immigrants increases.”
The correlation between unemployment and right-wing votes has to be discussed with similar sophistication. Although the unemployment rate exerts a largely significant and positive impact on NPD electoral success, as Teney shows, this does not apply to the same extent for all districts. The effect is found especially in the regions around the former inner-German border. A possible explanation for these spatial patterns lies in the large unemployment gap between East and West Germany which might increase the salience of unemployment issues in areas that are located in between. In her paper, Céline Teney is using the innovative geographically weighted regression approach.