A woman carries her child in an initial reception facility in Bitburg, Germany | Photo: Picture-alliance/dpa/H.Tittel
A woman carries her child in an initial reception facility in Bitburg, Germany | Photo: Picture-alliance/dpa/H.Tittel

Higher numbers of asylum seekers lead to greater support for right-wing political parties, researchers in Germany say. One study found that housing asylum seekers in reception centers gives anti-migrant parties a boost at the ballot box.

Regions where more asylum seekers and refugees live are fertile electoral ground for right-wing parties, according to researchers at the Leibniz Institute for Economic Research (RWI). Two recent studies conducted by the German institute have found that parties like the neo-nazi NPD, the anti-immigration Die Republikaner (Republicans), Die Rechte (The Right) and the AfD (Alternative for Germany) get more votes in regions with greater numbers of immigrants. 

At the district level, analysis showed that greater numbers of asylum seekers also had the effect of boosting pro-migration parties such as the Greens, according to the RWI. However, this only applied in regions that were doing well economically.

Call for decentralized housing

The research, obtained by the Düsseldorf-based Rheinische Post newspaper, also showed that the way in which asylum seekers were housed played a major role. One of the studies found that if migrants are accommodated in centralized reception facilities – such as ANKER centers – right-wing parties receive more support both in those and in neighboring areas. On the other hand, no effect on the level of support for right-wing parties was observed where asylum seekers were housed in decentralized apartments.

Julia Bredtmann, head of the RWI's Migration and Integration Research Group told the Rheinische Post that there were several possible reasons for the support for anti-migration parties, including concerns about increasing crime, fears about the distribution of public wealth, and "also simply xenophobia."

According to Bredtmann, migrant accommodation is likely to contribute to the electoral success of right-wing parties "as long as (they) continue to raise the issue and stir up fears in their target group."

Politicians should try to distribute refugees evenly in communities, Bredtmann said. This would make sense from an integration perspective as well as counteracting the strength of right-wing parties, she added. 

With epd, Rheinische Post

 

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