The Calculus of Ethnic Minority Voting in Britain

David Sanders, Anthony Heath, Stephen Fisher, Maria Sobolewska

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using data from the 2010 UK general election, the article shows that there is a distinctive calculus of party choice among Britain's overwhelmingly Labour-supporting ethnic minorities. Ethnic minority (EM) voters are similar to whites in the importance they accord to partisanship and valence considerations in deciding which party they vote for. However, EM voters place less emphasis on ideological spatial calculations. Additionally, across all ethnic minority groups, there is an important - and differentiated - role for perceptions of discrimination. In 2010, personal experience of (egocentric) discrimination tended to damage Labour as the incumbent governing party. In contrast, perceptions of (sociotropic) discrimination against fellow EM citizens interacted with participation in British cultural practices to increase support for Labour. These findings reflect the history of Labour and Conservative governments in the UK. Labour is the only party that, in power, has legislated actively to promote ethnic minority rights and interests. © 2013 The Authors. Political Studies. © 2013 Political Studies Association.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230-251
Number of pages21
JournalPolitical Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Discrimination
  • Ethnicity
  • Identity
  • Valence
  • Voting


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