Politics of the Low Countries


Exploring Mediating Motivations for Muslims’ Electoral Preferences

Issue Voters Rather Than Ideologues

Keywords Muslim, left party vote, preferential vote, Belgium, exit poll
Authors Samira Azabar en Peter Thijssen
Author's information

Samira Azabar
Samira Azabar is a doctoral student at the Department of Political Science of the University of Antwerp, where she is connected to the research group M2P (Media, Movements and Politics). Her research interests include political participation of underrepresented groups, minorities’ resistance and intersectionality.

Peter Thijssen
Peter Thijssen is Professor of Political Sociology at the University of Antwerp and member of the research group Media, Movements, and Politics. His research focuses on public opinion, political participation, and the politics of solidarity.
  • Abstract

      Research has revealed that a significant part of Muslims cast a vote for a left party, on the one hand, and/or a preferential vote(s), on the other, but the underlying explanatory factors remain unclear. Based on mediation analyses, we test whether the ‘left-wing tendency and personalization of the Muslim vote’ are motivated by specific considerations related to the Michigan model (issues, candidates, party evaluation) and/or minorities-specific factors (religion and political alienation) vis-à-vis non-Muslims. For this purpose, we focus on the electoral preferences of Muslims in Belgium based on mock ballot data connected to an exit poll for the Belgian local elections in 2018. Our structural equation analyses reveal that issues are particularly relevant for Muslims compared with non-Muslims when explaining the leftist vote. Furthermore, neither the Michigan model nor the minorities-specific variables seem to explain Muslims’ preferential voting vis-à-vis non-Muslims. Consequently, using in-depth interviews with Muslims, we further unravel these motivations and the decision-making process leading to their vote choices.

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