Does Direct Democracy Hurt Immigrant Minorities?

Welcome to the website of the research project ‘’.

Direct democracy is becoming more popular in many countries and is often praised as one of the most legitimate procedures for deciding on political matters. But what happens to ethnic minorities, when the majority of voters, instead of elected politicians decide on policy? Do minorities fare worse under direct democracy than under representative democracy?

This research project examines these questions in the context of naturalization applications of immigrants in Switzerland, which are decided at the local level either by citizens in referendums or elected politicians in municipality councils. The project is led by Jens Hainmueller (Massa-chusetts Institute of Technology) and Dominik Hangartner (London School of Economics and University of Zurich) and funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Click on the video above for a short documentary about the project. Further information can be found here. The published reports and working papers are available for download in the upper-right panel.