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Browsing by Author "Breton, Julie"

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  • Breton, Julie (2017)
    Voting turnout has decreased in most Western democracies since the post-war period. In Finland, low turnout at elections affects significantly more certain groups, such as the youth and immigrants enfranchised to vote in local elections. At the occasion of the 2017 Finnish municipal elections, a series of 21 debates between local candidates and with a thematic focus on issues related to the increasing diversity of the Finnish society was organised by the Network of Multicultural Associations Moniheli under the name Kaikkien Vaalit (Our Election). One of the goals of the debates was to increase the interest in and participation to elections of immigrant-background residents. Considering the gap in participation between native Finnish citizens and immigrants, does attending a thematic debate affect attendees differently depending on their migrant background? The objective of this study is to build a frame of reference based on existing get-out-the-vote (GOTV) literature to determine what effects can be expected, analyse the reported effects of the panels on migrant background categories derived from practice in non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and evaluate the relevance of the categories for events designed for corresponding target groups in the NGO field. The data used in this quantitative analysis are feedback questionnaires (n = 225) collected at the end of 18 Kaikkien Vaalit events for project reporting, as well as a complementary post-election phone survey. The three outcome variables derived from the survey results are whether the respondent reported an increase in voting interest, found the predefined issues discussed during the panel personally relevant, and obtained information useful to a choice between candidates or parties. The independent variable is a six-group migrant background variable based on the respondents’ provided information about mother tongue and migration to Finland, adjusted for citizenship and time spent in Finland. Socio-economic and participation indicators are used as secondary variables to refine observations. The study uses crosstabulation to examine the distribution of answers between groups, and Kruskal-Wallis H tests and Mann-Whitney U tests to evaluate the relevance and suitability of migrant background categories. The debates are found to reach an audience in line with both GOTV research and with the objectives of the Kaikkien Vaalit project. A statistically significantly different distribution of answers is found between migrant background groups for the interest and information variable, but not for the importance variable. Further tests show that the effect on interest differs between groups both by migration experience and by foreign mother tongue, and only by foreign mother tongue for the information variable, while categories were not relevant for the differentiated distribution of the scores for the importance of issues. Findings suggest that the direct effect on turnout is structurally limited due to the attendees’ high voting propensity, but indicate the possibility for corollary positive effects. The complementary nature of debates as GOTV efforts is confirmed, and the function of debates as informative events is put into question.