Beiträge zur Jahrestagung des Vereins für Socialpolitik 2019: 30 Jahre Mauerfall - Demokratie und Marktwirtschaft - Session: Political Economy - Elections I No. A23-V2
Drawing on panel data from six elections between 1998 and 2017 in Germany, we estimate the causal effect of immigration - described by Germany's interior minister as the "mother of all political problems" - on electoral support for the far right and the far left. Our identification strategy is underpinned by focusing on a particular category of immigrants, asylum seekers, who are administratively allocated across Germany according to pre-defined quotas. We find that the presence of asylum seekers has a polarizing effect, increasing vote shares for both the far right and far left. For the right, the magnitude of this effect is found to be independent of the unemployment level. For the left, the positive effect of asylum seekers tapers off with increases in unemployment, eventually becoming negative. The results suggest that the confluence of high unemployment and high immigration would tilt the electoral landscape in Germany to the right.