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Immigration into the mainstream: Conflicting ideological streams, strategic reasoning and party competition

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Abstract

Although immigration is one of the key issues of contestation in Western Europe, the extent to which it plays a part in electoral competition in individual states varies considerably, especially when it comes to the use made of the issue by parties generally considered mainstream rather than extreme. We suggest some explanations for this variation and for why the immigration ‘issue’ is rarely a top election priority even though the political mainstream has continuously been prompted to make it one. Immigration imposes conflicting ideological ‘pulls’ on parties and they pursue a number of ownership strategies to bypass such tensions.
Special Issue Introductory Chapter
Immigration into the Mainstream: Conflicting Ideological Streams,
Strategic Reasoning and Party Competition
Editors
Pontus Odmalm (University of Edinburgh)
Tim Bale (Queen Mary, University of London)
Immigration is one of the key issues of contestation in contemporary European
politics (Boswell, 2003). The populist radical right has mobilised around it, some
parts of the media are similarly obsessed with it, and many voters feel just as strongly
about it. Yet the extent to which immigration plays a part in electoral competition in
individual states varies considerably, especially when it comes to the use made of the
issue by those parties generally considered mainstream rather than extreme. In some
countries, the centre-right and the centre-left have made immigration central to their
electoral campaigns. In others, the issue registers temporarily on their electoral radar
screen, only to drop off it at subsequent elections (see e.g. Green-Pedersen and
Krogstrup, 2008; Pellikann et al, 2007; Cornelius et al, 1994; Thränhardt, 1995).
This variance constitutes a puzzle for the study of electoral politics. Studies
that try to explain it sometimes start with the supply side, namely the electoral
significance of anti-immigration parties (see e.g. Kitschelt and McGann, 1995; Betz,
1994, Mudde, 2004). The mainstream, the argument runs, shies away from
immigration, effectively creating a vacuum that the radical right rushes in to fill.
Immigration becomes an ‘issue’ as anti-immigration parties are able to capitalise on
those voters whose concerns about immigration are supposedly ignored by the parties
they traditionally support, leaving them with little alternative but the extremist or
radical option. In order to remedy this electoral ‘theft’, mainstream parties react by
sharpening their own stances, breaking taboos, and doing deals, either to exclude the
radical right from government or to give it a share of the spoils of office, possibly as a
full-blown coalition partner or else as some kind of support party. None of this,
however, can satisfactorily explain why immigration is picked up, and picked over, in
countries where the electoral and/or parliamentary presence of the radical right is, if
not absent, then far too small to present a serious threat – an important reminder that
mainstream parties (and not necessarily only those on the right) do not always need
prompting by ‘niche’ competitors in order to talk about or act upon the issue, often in
pretty populist terms (Alonso and da Fonseca, 2012; see also Bale, 2013 and
Carvalho, 2014).
Conversely, a focus on the demand side - on voters - faces problems too.
Simply knowing what the electorate thinks about immigration does not allow us to
fully account for either the positions that parties adopt or for when the issue is (or is
not) emphasised by parties during electoral campaigns. Whatever spatial theory
(Downs, 1957) suggests, party positions on immigration are often uncoordinated with
the electorate’s views, not least because there is no guarantee of congruence between
elite and public priorities and because, owing perhaps to ‘issue diversity’ (Hobolt et
al, 2008) and ‘agenda friction’ (Schattschneider, 1960), parties can be slow to respond
to voter preferences especially when the electoral situation they face does not
appear to be unduly critical (Adams et al, 2004; Budge, 1994). In any case, in an era
of valence (as opposed to position) politics, voters' ideological preferences may
matter less than their judgements about the ability of parties to deliver competently
(see e.g. Stokes, 1963; Riker, 1996; Green, 2007). In the immigration context, this
may well come down to their ability to limit the numbers coming into the country
something that may not be wholly within the control of even the most resolute
government: as a recent study of a country whose governments frequently find it
difficult to live up to their promises to voters on this score notes, ‘restrictive reform is
constrained by international and European law, global economic trends and organised
interests’ (Ford et al., 2014).
The immigration ‘issue’ is of course ideologically loaded, but it can
nonetheless be understood as a valance question since mainstream parties, with some
exceptions, now seem to agree on the direction that policy should take, namely to
achieve both control and cultural and economic integration. That said, a party that
‘owns’ immigration (Odmalm, 2014; 2012; 2011, van der Brug, 2004; Petrocik, 1996)
is thus likely to emphasise the issue whereas a party that does not and/or performs
relatively worse will downplay or ignore it. Green and Hobolt (2008) identify a link
between issue ownership and how parties strive to raise the salience level of that
particular issue. However, these efforts primarily tend to pay off when they also
coincide with voters’ own perceptions of the importance of the issue, which are never
simply a function of party mobilisation (Belanger and Meguid, 2008). This raises the
possibility of a mismatch between party approaches and the electorate’s responses or
priorities. Why, then, do parties get this calculation ‘wrong’?
For one thing, political parties operate within a space that has at least two-
dimensional dimensions (Kriesi et al, 2006; Kitschelt and McGann, 1995). On the
one hand, there is a Left-Right axis referring to the appropriate level of state
involvement in the economy. As such, parties are classified along a spectrum ranging
from ‘socialist’ to ‘neo-liberal’ (Evans at al, 1996; Kriesi et al, 2006). This ‘old’
politics dimension concerned, among other issues, labour market regulation,
public/private ownership and level of taxation, and characterised a majority of the
West European democracies from the mid-20th century to the early 1970s. Divisions
between parties were often sharp with voter preferences mapping onto social class.
From the 1970s onwards, however, conflict regarding the state’s involvement in the
economy became less polarised and contestation, when present, tended to revolve
around, say, the scope of publicly provided welfare or the speed of privatisation
However, a ‘new’ source of conflict emerged which related to ‘post-material’
(Inglehart, 1997), or what Hooghe et al (2002) have labelled, GAL/TAN issues
(Green/Alternative/Libertarian - Traditional/Authoritarian/Nationalist), and which
concerned e.g. environmental protection, nationalism, personal freedoms, and
questions of ethnicity and culture.
As Hooghe et al. also note, attitudes towards further EU integration constitute
a particularly difficult issue for parties to assimilate into either an economic or a
socio-cultural (GAL/TAN) Left-Right dimension. Immigration gives rise to a similar
dilemma since it cuts across several, sometimes disparate, policy fields. It not only
has economic effects, whether ‘positive’ (e.g. meeting supply shortages or keeping
wage inflation low) or ‘negative’ (e.g. sparking labour market chauvinism, creating a
new, ‘ethnic’ underclass or removing the incentives for firms and governments to
train and educate the native-born working class), but also impacts on notions of
national identity, social cohesion, language, welfare provision, law and order,
terrorism and security, and cultural practices. This puts the political mainstream in a
continual quandary since these effects tap into prevailing ideological tensions that
exist within, and between, parties. The shift from uni- to multi-dimensional
contestation not only adds further complexity to party classification (Benoit and
Laver, 2007; Klingemann et al, 2006), but, rather more importantly, also means that
these tensions can crystallise thus subjecting parties to a set of conflicting ideological
‘pulls’ (Odmalm, 2011; 2014) on a whole series of issues. Most obviously, the right’s
traditional emphasis on ‘less state’ in the economy is counterpointed by a pull towards
‘more state’ influence on individual lifestyle choices and the preservation of national
identity, while the left’s traditional concern to limit the role of the market, through
extensive state action, provides a contrast with ideas of localised democracy,
international solidarity and increased personal freedom that arguably call for less state
influence. The introduction of a new, and increasingly non-economic, cleavage
allowed new parties to form and be (occasionally) successful in particular Green
parties - and, as such, these ideological tensions have often been neutralised (Jahn,
1993; Müller-Rommel, 1989).
However, competing on the immigration ‘issue’ can trigger the (re)emergence
of these strains, prompting dilemmas of framing, positioning and campaigning for the
political mainstream. For the centre-right, immigration crystallises a tension between
market liberal and culturally conservative wings (see the various contributions to
Bale, 2008). The former, predominantly present in liberal and conservative parties,
often pushes for immigration policies to be liberalised and for the private sector to
have greater powers in deciding the appropriate levels of, especially, labour migration
(see Spehar et al., 2013). The latter, often present in Christian Democratic and
conservative parties, will be hesitant about handing over such a key area of
sovereignty to non-state actors, fearing the loss of control of national borders and
culture. Both wings also tend to experience conflicting attitudes towards asylum and
family reunification migration. Since the former category is usually legally prevented
from economic participation, and the latter’s entry into the labour market can be
delayed due to linguistic, cultural and/or educational reasons, it will make the benefits
of these types of migrants less obvious which in turn will make it difficult for market
liberals to justify why policies should be liberalised. While asylum migration, and
subsequent family reunification, may also bring individuals who emphasise the
family unit and traditional lifestyles, their perceptions of the ‘family’ and ‘traditional
lifestyles’ may run contrary to what the culturally conservative wing has in mind.
Further problems may arise if these ‘new’ values and lifestyles clash with particular
‘Western’ values that stress e.g. equality, especially between the sexes, or
emancipation.
Immigration poses just as many dilemmas for the centre-left (see Bale et al.,
2010 and 2012). For Social Democratic and reformed Left parties, limiting it can
easily be seen as vital in order to retain collective power and good terms and
conditions in the labour market (see Hinnfors et al. 2011). Giving up the right to
decide on entry would run the risk of undermining the collectively bargained
agreements and allow wages to be undercut. And in the long run, ‘uncontrolled’
immigration could potentially create not new recruits to the cause (Ireland, 2004;
Breunig and Luedtke, 2008, see also Messina, 2007) but rather a new ethnic -
underclass and accordingly, split the indigenous working class (Givens and Luedtke,
2004). At the same time, the centre-left has been influenced by ‘new’ post-material
ideas. Green and reformed Left parties often view immigration as a fundamental
human right and taking on workers and, especially, refugees would thus be an
important aspect of showing one’s credentials of international solidarity (Jahn, 1993;
Müller-Rommel, 1989).
These tensions will have an affect on party behaviour and competition.
Adopting a position that links immigration with international solidarity or the free
market, or with labour market protectionism or value-conservatism is associated with
particular risks and emphasising either position will have important electoral and
organisational implications. If parties get the emphasis wrong, it may alienate their
natural voters and jeopardise governing potential. As such, the immigration ‘issue’
can cause ideological splits and intra-party fragmentation, which further hinders the
chances of winning elections. Little wonder, then, that it often makes strategic sense
to downplay or ignore immigration as an electoral priority. Yet parties have to be
sensitive to shifts in public opinion and if immigration moves up the agenda, they
must respond to voters’ concerns. On the other hand, emphasising the issue too much
gives the populist radical right unwanted attention and may further destabilise the
political arena. Parties must therefore perform a difficult balancing act. They must
engage with the immigration ‘issue’ in a way that avoids highlighting these tensions,
thereby shifting the electoral focus away from parties’ key areas of policy strength
and electoral priorities. At the same time, they have somehow to improve their
capacity to handle a matter of acute public concern while not opening themselves up
to criticism, which, in turn, gives the populist radical right unwarranted attention.
In the light of all this, we ask the contributors to this special issue to address
when, why, and how do mainstream parties decide whether or not to emphasise
immigration during their election campaigns? Of particular concern has been to
evaluate the explanatory potential of two competing frameworks.
On the one hand, there is a more structurally orientated approach which
addresses the extent to which parties react to a set of immigration ‘shocks’, and then
assesses the importance of these for the type of party responses, (re)positioning and
electoral strategies pursued (Norris, 1995; van Spanje, 2010; Mudde, 2004, see also
Rabinowitz and MacDonald, 1989; Kitschelt and McGann, 1995; Betz, 1994). These
shocks are not just limited to the emergence, and subsequent electoral success, of the
populist radical right but are also contingent upon an additional set of indigenous and
exogenous factors. These include, but are not limited to the following: increased
immigration and asylum pressures; the perceived economic and/or cultural ‘cost’ of
immigration/integration and changing levels of media and public attention paid to the
immigration ‘issue’. None of these factors exist independently of each other and more
often than not they will create a feedback loop in the political discourse. But
immigration will impact on countries in different ways and responses have
subsequently tended to vary. Parties therefore tend to behave selectively and may
emphasise particular aspect(s) of the immigration ‘issue’ in their campaigns.
Additionally, certain events, such as increased terrorist activities or threats, often
manage to cut across the immigration/integration divide. It would thus seem
reasonable to assume that the above factors lead parties to respond by sharpening
their stances on the immigration ‘issue’. That is, one might anticipate finding a degree
of fit between immigration developing in a ‘negative’ direction and parties taking up
more restrictive positions and discourses.
There is, however, a second approach. The first assumes that there is a stimulus-
response relationship between immigration ‘shocks’ and restrictive repositioning. This
does not attribute parties much agency or agenda-setting power. It also leaves us wonder-
ing how it is, if parties’ responses to the presence of populist radical right challengers or
various immigration and integration pressures really are so automatic, they often ‘fail’
to campaign on, or emphasise, a restrictive agenda.
The special issue, then, will also consider how much agency parties exercise
and how much leeway they actually have or give themselves (van der Brug, 2004; Petro-
cik, 1996). While migratory pressures and populist radical right challenges are obviously
still relevant in explaining party actions, contributors also consider parties’ ability to
handle the conflicting ideological strains described above. Since immigration has been
described as being an important contributor to the transformation of established cleavages
(Kriesi et al, 2006; 2008) as well as an issue associated with the demise of ideology (La-
hav, 1997), parties are likely to find it difficult to come up with a new ‘master frame’ (Ry-
dgren, 2005) around the issue while simultaneously experiencing intra-organisational
strains due to competing factions and issue orientations. If they cannot successfully nego-
tiate, and manage, these opposing ‘pulls’, parties might therefore try to divert attention to
issues on which they are particularly trusted . This focus will thus allow us to examine
and explain instances where parties do not behave as expected.
Based on these conditions and what the literature suggests about party
behaviour, we propose the following three hypotheses:
H1: Mainstream parties will emphasise their ability to deal with the immigration
‘issue’ if there is significant inter-party agreement over the direction of
immigration/integration policies. Where there is no such agreement, they will not do
so.
H2: Mainstream parties will downplay/ignore the immigration ‘issue’ if voters’ trust
in them on the issue is lower than it is for the other party/other parties.
H3: Mainstream parties will divert attention toward areas of greater competence if
they are unable to resolve any ideological tensions stemming from the immigration
‘issue’.
Case selection
Some of the cases included in this special issue (namely, Belgium; Germany; the
Netherlands and Sweden) would feature in any line of ‘the usual suspects’ when it
comes to studying the politics of immigration in Western Europe. However, we have
also included cases that are covered less frequently (namely, Italy, Greece and Spain).
All our countries not only have a sizable migrant and/or ethnic minority population
but they have also, with the partial exception of the latter three, received substantial
attention in the literature (see e.g. Boswell, 2006; Castles and Miller. 2003; Hammar,
2006; Messina, 2007). The cases are of further interest since they also offer a high
degree of variation in terms of the sources of newcomers, approaches to integration,
and the degree of contestation that the immigration ‘issue’ endures during elections.
Belgium and the Netherlands form a ‘post-colonial’ pairing which is
juxtaposed by Sweden, Germany, Greece, Italy and Spain which, conversely, have
had higher numbers of asylum seekers and, especially for the latter three,
undocumented migrants. Similarly, the countries differ in terms of their conceptions
of citizenship (Bauböck et al, 2006) and in their approaches to migrant integration
(Koopmans et al 2006; Koopmans and Statham, 2000). Finally, the way that the
immigration ‘issue’ has appeared on parties’ electoral radar screens shows ample
variation but also some crucial similarities. While the Dutch parties have come to
adopt an increasingly confrontational approach, immigration has rarely been a source
of contestation in Sweden, even though both countries share similar institutional
surroundings and (traditionally anyway) similar approaches to integration. On the
other hand, Germany and Sweden display some surprising similarities in the way that
the immigration ‘issue’ has played out in electoral politics even though these cases
have very different institutional conditions and ways of dealing with immigration and
integration. Some of the cases have also experienced the sudden rise of populist
radical right challengers but this rise has prompted markedly different mainstream
party responses. Although some of the Swedish parties have hinted at a more
restrictive line on immigration, they have not abandoned key stances on asylum, anti-
discrimination and cultural differences which, in contrast, have been modified and in
some cases completely abandoned in the Netherlands. In addition, the Swedish parties
have showed few signs of trying to accommodate the populist radical right or
incorporating its issue positions.
Italy and Belgium are, in comparison, the odd cases out. In the former, there
are difficulties involved in identifying ‘the mainstream’, especially if the mainstream
parties are defined according to ideological distance and electoral success. Such a
definition would place the populist radical right very much at the heart of the Italian
centre-right family thus blurring the distinction between ‘mainstream’ and
‘radical’/‘extremist’ parties. In the latter, Belgium provides an anomaly in terms of
immigration’s level of contestation. While a majority of the countries covered in this
issue exhibit some degree of polarisation between parties that want to pursue a more
liberal vs. a more restrictive approach, the Belgian parties have tended to find
consensus around a ‘doctrine of zero-immigration’ (Martiniello, 2003:225) where the
main emphasis has been to reduce, prevent and reverse migration flows as much as
possible. Greece, on the other hand, provides an extreme example of the state of ‘flux’
(Mair, 1989) that West European party systems are in politically as well
economically.
In order to test the relevance of the special issue’s thesis regarding ‘conflicting
ideological pulls’, the case selection includes countries with varying degrees of public
opposition to immigration, ranging from Greece (strongest) through the Netherlands,
Belgium, Spain, Germany, Italy and (lowest) Sweden (Sides and Citrin, 2007). We
have also included countries where the populist radical right has a parliamentary
presence (Belgium, Greece, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Italy) and where it does not
(Germany and Spain). The countries will thus shed light on the extent to which
immigration, as a party-politically relevant issue, is dependent on, or largely
independent of, these externalities. While we anticipate that the above conditions will
have some effect on immigration’s level of politicisation, our main emphasis is placed
on parties’ abilities to handle and negotiate these ideological ‘pulls’ and issue
priorities. As such, we argue that it is the dynamics of party competition that is the
key explanatory factor for when and why immigration becomes an electoral issue.
Accordingly, we ask contributors to focus on both the centre-right and the centre-left.
Despite the common wisdom that preferences can be read along a left (pro) right
(anti) continuum, the extent to which immigration policies became more or less
restrictive, or integration policies more or less demanding, does not always map onto
parties’ ideological affiliations. That is, the centre-left is just as likely as the centre-
right to introduce changes regarding immigration controls, citizenship policies or
access to welfare benefits (Hinnfors et al, 2011).
Finally, when analysing their respective cases, we ask our contributors to address the
following questions.
1) How divided are parties over the direction of immigration and/or integration
policies?
2) Are some parties more trusted than others on the immigration ‘issue’? If so,
how have these differences played out in party competition?
3) Has the immigration ‘issue’ brought the ideological tensions to the fore? If so,
how have the mainstream parties handled these strains?
Conclusion
What, then, do our cases, beginning with Germany, tell us? For the German parties,
agreeing on the general direction of policy has seen an increased emphasis on
competence yet this has often been reluctantly, rather than enthusiastically, pursued.
As Schmidtke’s contribution suggests, this hesitation is linked to multiple
uncertainties: first, there is concern that competition over ownership may result in an
unwelcome opening for the populist radical right; second, centre-left and centre-right
parties have struggled to agree on what type of issue the immigration ‘issue’
constituted in the first place; and thirdly, there is doubt and debate within parties as to
which segment of voters to pursue – in the case of the centre-left, for instance, should
it be the ‘new’ ethnic or the ‘old’ working-class vote? The centre-right has perhaps
fared better by merging the immigration ‘issue’ with policy areas associated with high
levels of public trust.
The conflicting ideological ‘pulls’ have also been present in the Swedish case.
But, as Widfeldt points out, these tensions have rarely translated into any overt
electoral conflict but have instead remained under the surface. The centre-left, at least
as a bloc, has been more prone to such strains given the clear tension on labour and
asylum migration between the ‘old’ and ‘new’ left parties, whereas the centre-right
has managed to steer the political conversation towards labour migration thereby
avoiding any potential disunity arising from the more ideologically ambiguous
refugee category.
In the Netherlands, and to a lesser extent in Flanders as well, all bets appear to
be off. Super notes that, regardless of whether issue positions converge or diverge, or
the extent of ‘pull’ that parties experience, the mainstream has increasingly opted for
an ownership approach. Yet this has also been coupled with a more cautious
‘Goldilocks’ tactic that attempts to straddle the ‘liberal’/’restrictionist’ divide without
drawing too much attention to precise policy positions.
The Mediterranean cases provide an illuminating contrast but also a number of
similarities. Karamanidou, for example, highlights how ideological strains, and the
overall directional consensus, have indeed come to affect the strategies of the Greek
mainstream and how these factors have quite clearly pushed parties towards an
ownership-style mode of competition. At the same time, however, the sudden rise of
Golden Dawn has accentuated these efforts rather than prompted parties to respond
with a dismissive approach or to divert attention elsewhere. And in Spain, Morales et
al find that mainstream parties converging around largely restrictive positions has not
necessarily translated into more claims of issue ownership on their part. Rather
counterintuitively in fact, the attention paid to, and the degrees of ownership
competition over, the immigration ‘issue’ appears to be out of sync: parties that
exhibit relatively low levels of trust on immigration emphasise it just as much as
parties that enjoy higher levels of trust. The Spanish case also suggests a greater role
for ideology in the political discourse around immigration but, somewhat surprising
perhaps, fewer internal strains than are evident in other countries. Parties instead tend
to stick to their long-standing positions despite political conditions which might have
been expected to prompt positional, tactical and saliency shifts. This is possibly
because of the novelty that the immigration ‘issue’ presents and how the Spanish
parties have yet to agree on an appropriate frame and problem formulation of the
‘issue’. This leaves the rather paradoxical case of Italy. Massetti finds that intra-party
and inter-coalition dynamics have effectively trumped any hesitation that an
ostensibly conservative party like Forza Italia might have been expected to display
when dealing with a radical right coalition partner like the Lega Nord. And, whereas
the centre-left in other countries often struggles to accommodate labour market
protectionism with a focus on international solidarity, the Italian equivalent has been
remarkably unaffected by this particular conflict due to the two-tier structure of the
labour market. All this has come to neutralise any destabilising tension between
different party wings and factions.
Where, then, does this leave party competition on one of the most
ideologically loaded policy areas in Western Europe? The overall picture suggests
that parties are cautious creatures who tend to stick with ownership rather than
striking out and offering choices, regardless of whether those choices involve
liberalising or restricting entry regulations or involve pushing for more or less
demanding modes of integration. One explanation for their seemingly natural caution
(some might call it inertia) is that the choices they might consider may very well see
them straying into or even stranded on the territory of their more radical competitors,
be they radical right-wing populists or left-liberals or invite criticism for not being
feasible.
So how do our hypotheses stand up in the light of the contributions to this
special issue? First, the immigration ‘issue’ does indeed appear to give rise to a
directional consensus and, as such, is better placed in the realm of valance rather than
positional competition (H1). Yet what the contributions also highlight is that parties
often disagree about what type of ‘issue’ immigration constitutes, particularly if there
is an internal party struggle over dimensional fit and societal impact. And while,
secondly, it does indeed seem as if trust and competence are important for whether or
not parties choose to campaign on immigration (H2) -related questions, a more
pertinent query is, perhaps, the extent to which parties are able to merge their stances
on immigration with issues where they enjoy higher competence ratings (H2).
Thirdly, the immigration ‘issue’ has also more obviously crystallised internal
ideological tensions the further North one looks, whereas in the South a much more
complex relationship between ideology, the inter-party dynamics and immigration
emerges (H3).
Overall, then, we find stronger evidence for the first and second than for the
last of our three hypotheses. This is in itself interesting. It raises a number of
questions about the state of flux that party systems are said to be in but also about the
shift that is taking place in the role of political parties. More ideological tension
would suggest that ideas and visions continue to be important in contemporary
European politics but the turn – or perhaps reversion - towards ownership competition
is not so much a sign of ideology’s death as an indication of its continued importance.
Since a majority of the parties covered here have struggled to accommodate their
‘issue’ position with their ‘ideological’ orientation, the shift towards emphasising and
evidencing competence is a convenient (and safe) way to bypass these ideological
tensions. Our case selection, and the subsequent findings do, in a sense, suggest that
something more is going on here than merely the demise of ideology and parties
responding (either pro- or reactively) to various external ‘shocks’. The processes
internal to parties themselves appear to be just as important for understanding why
the political mainstream tends to not make a big deal out of the immigration ‘issue’.
The analytical framework we propose and the questions we ask thus invite further
comparisons to be made.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Research support under the Economic and Social Research Council’s First Grant Scheme
(RES-061-25–0195) is gratefully acknowledged. The guest editors would also like to
thank the article referees, and the anonymous reviewer of the special issue for
additional comments and suggestions.
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... As much as theories and methods direct the attention of science toward certain research questions, and price-making markets orient the production and distribution of commodities toward certain needs, the structures of political regimes condition their patterns of responsiveness. 2 For instance, the dynamics of electoral competition in liberal democracies have been found to inf luence the political construction of problems by contending parties, depending inter alia on their respective interests in ideological polarization or ideological consensus-building (Aragonès, Castanheira and Giani, 2015;Dragu and Fan, 2016;Odmalm and Bale, 2015). Another example is the tendency of presidential regimes to favor "urgent" crisis-like problem descriptions, which allow the president -a political role historically rooted in the figure of the monarch -to display her or his ability to lead and safeguard the nation while standing above the petty divisions of party politics (Keeler, 1993). ...
Chapter
This book is about the radical novelty of modern polities in a functionally differentiated world society. Premodern states were at the apex of a stratified, hierarchical society. They dominated society and all its groups and strata. Modern polities have to be understood through the ecology of relations among different function systems. They have to find and incessantly redefine their place in society. They produce decisions that are collectively binding, but in preparing these decisions experience constraints and knowledge deficiencies that are related to the complexity of a functionally differentiated society. The book concentrates on six analytical perspectives that reflect how modern polities are embedded into 21st century society. These perspectives are: the concept of inclusion and the inclusion revolution constitutive of modern polities; the internal differentiation of polities that endows them with an unprecedented complexity; the fact that polities do not know anything about society and the ways in which they compensate for this; representation and responsiveness as strategies to reconnect with society; the self-restriction of some polities that brings about ever new autonomous expert organizations; the symmetrical rise of autocracies and democracies as the two modern variants of political regimes.
... As a result, mainstream political parties have become more Eurosceptic (Meijers, 2017) and supportive of more restrictive immigration policies (Abou-Chadi, 2016;Van Spanje, 2010;Wagner and Meyer, 2017). In many instances, this has produced electoral benefits (Downes et al., 2021;Downes and Loveless, 2018;Odmalm and Bale, 2015;Pardos-Prado, 2015), but there is a risk when engaging with and accommodating the issues and appeals of radical-right parties that those issues in consequence increase in salience, and such strategies are likely to be less successful when a challenger radical-right party has already become trusted and credible on such issues (Meguid, 2005(Meguid, , 2008. Some mainstream centre-right parties, therefore, experience electoral losses from accommodative strategies (Meijers and Williams, 2019) which can also produce '. . . ...
Article
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How can centre–right parties in majoritarian systems adapt to threats from the radical right? Using a long-term inter-election panel study, we identify a remarkably stable constituency of support for Britain’s recent radical-right parties – the UK Independence Party and the Brexit Party. We show also how these same voters defected from the Conservatives across elections. In response, the government used a combination of the election of a new leader, Boris Johnson, and a hardline position on Brexit to reincorporate these voters into its support base, helping to lead to a large Conservative majority in 2019. Cross-party evaluations of Johnson were even more important in influencing this success than the issue of Brexit itself. Effective centre–right adaption to radical-right challenges is not simply about strategic issue positioning, it can also derive from centre–right leaders with populist appeal.
... As much as theories and methods direct the attention of science toward certain research questions, and price-making markets orient the production and distribution of commodities toward certain needs, the structures of political regimes condition their patterns of responsiveness. 2 For instance, the dynamics of electoral competition in liberal democracies have been found to inf luence the political construction of problems by contending parties, depending inter alia on their respective interests in ideological polarization or ideological consensus-building (Aragonès, Castanheira and Giani, 2015;Dragu and Fan, 2016;Odmalm and Bale, 2015). Another example is the tendency of presidential regimes to favor "urgent" crisis-like problem descriptions, which allow the president -a political role historically rooted in the figure of the monarch -to display her or his ability to lead and safeguard the nation while standing above the petty divisions of party politics (Keeler, 1993). ...
Chapter
Full-text available
This book is about the radical novelty of modern polities in a functionally differentiated world society. Premodern states were at the apex of a stratified, hierarchical society. They dominated society and all its groups and strata. Modern polities have to be understood through the ecology of relations among different function systems. They have to find and incessantly redefine their place in society. They produce decisions that are collectively binding, but in preparing these decisions experience constraints and knowledge deficiencies that are related to the complexity of a functionally differentiated society. The book concentrates on six analytical perspectives that reflect how modern polities are embedded into 21st century society. These perspectives are: the concept of inclusion and the inclusion revolution constitutive of modern polities; the internal differentiation of polities that endows them with an unprecedented complexity; the fact that polities do not know anything about society and the ways in which they compensate for this; representation and responsiveness as strategies to reconnect with society; the self-restriction of some polities that brings about ever new autonomous expert organizations; the symmetrical rise of autocracies and democracies as the two modern variants of political regimes.
... As much as theories and methods direct the attention of science toward certain research questions, and price-making markets orient the production and distribution of commodities toward certain needs, the structures of political regimes condition their patterns of responsiveness. 2 For instance, the dynamics of electoral competition in liberal democracies have been found to inf luence the political construction of problems by contending parties, depending inter alia on their respective interests in ideological polarization or ideological consensus-building (Aragonès, Castanheira and Giani, 2015;Dragu and Fan, 2016;Odmalm and Bale, 2015). Another example is the tendency of presidential regimes to favor "urgent" crisis-like problem descriptions, which allow the president -a political role historically rooted in the figure of the monarch -to display her or his ability to lead and safeguard the nation while standing above the petty divisions of party politics (Keeler, 1993). ...
... Recent work on the populist radical right shows that, in spite of some adaptation and modification of its programmatic profile (Rovny 2013;Eger and Valdez 2015), it continues to be located at the far end of the political spectrum and shows limited commitment to liberal democracy (Akkerman, de Lange and Rooduijn 2016). At the same time, there is research on the transformation of mainstream right parties in response to the populist radical right: depending on the countries included, parties studied, methods employed and time frame considered in the analysis, some scholars find that mainstream right parties have been radicalizing (e.g., van Spanje 2010;Han 2015;Wagner and Meyer 2017; Abou-Chadi and Krause 2020), others do not detect huge changes (e.g., Alonso and da Fonseca 2012; Rooduijn, de Lange and van der Brug 2012;Mudde 2013;Akkerman 2015b), and some claim that there is significant variance across cases (e.g., Bale 2003;Odmalm and Bale 2015;Schumacher and van Kersbergen 2016). Moreover, we need to be careful not to fall into the trap of assuming that each and every shift in that respect is down to established parties reacting to new challengers rather than new challenges. ...
Chapter
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Ich habe versucht, auf der Basis von verschiedenen Fällen der Ausweitung des Wahlrechts auf Denizens, die in der Wissenschaft bisher nicht ausreichend erklärt werden, einen eigenen Erklärungsansatz „mittlerer Reichweite“ zu entwickeln. Dieses Kapitel versucht, die Ergebnisse dieses Ansatzes auf andere Fälle jenseits der hier untersuchten anzuwenden. Dabei handelt es sich um Fälle einer Ausweitung des Wahlrechts auf Denizens generell, also nicht nur einer bestimmten Untergruppe von Ausländer*innen wie in den von mir untersuchten Fällen in Deutschland und Portugal.
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In spite of the fact that Conservative, Christian democratic and Liberal parties continue to play a crucial role in the democratic politics and governance of every Western European country, they are rarely paid the attention they deserve. This cutting-edge comparative collection, combining qualitative case studies with large-N quantitative analysis, reveals a mainstream right squeezed by the need to adapt to both 'the silent revolution' that has seen the spread of postmaterialist, liberal and cosmopolitan values and the backlash against those values – the 'silent counter-revolution' that has brought with it the rise of a myriad far right parties offering populist and nativist answers to many of the continent's thorniest political problems. What explains why some mainstream right parties seem to be coping with that challenge better than others? And does the temptation to ride the populist wave rather than resist it ultimately pose a danger to liberal democracy?
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The results of this book suggest that the politicisation of immigration and the EU produces complex patterns of parties’ polarisation. On the one hand, immigration crosscuts the traditional lines of divisions among political parties, creating conflicting ideological pulls within mainstream parties. They seem to be in a state of flux, and often adopt vague or blurred positions, with no clear patterns of polarisation emerging. Populist (radical-right) parties are the only ones that endorse stable positions across policy issues and levels of government, which might explain their electoral success in recent elections in many European countries. On the other hand, Euroscepticism has been, at least partially, mainstreamed and normalized in the political arena. However, while mainstream right parties endorse a principled opposition to the EU polity, mainstream left party exercise a contingent and pragmatic opposition aimed to build a better and stronger Europe. Thus, Euroscepticism needs to be understood as a cumulative concept, which ranges from reactionary to reformist forms. Overall, the immigration crisis has broadened the political contraposition between an elite-led pro-integration coalition vs a Eurosceptic sovranist coalition, bridging anti-immigration stances with anti-EU stances.
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This book argues that although labour market needs have been an important element in the development of immigration policy, they have been filtered through a political process, the politics of immigration. The book explores the relation between policy and politics in France, the UK, and the US.
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Social change and multicultural society in Western Europe against diversity - new right ideology in the new Europe individualism and xenophobia - radical right-wing populism in a comparative perspective the social basis of radical right-wing populism political conflict in the postmodern age.
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On September 20, 2010, Swedes woke up to a new political landscape. The openly xenophobic Sweden Democrats (SD [Sverigedemokraterna]) had, with 5.7 percent of the votes at the general election, comfortably gained Riksdag (parliament) representation for the first time. However, although newly elected, signs had existed for nearly a decade of its impending political breakthrough, as SD had steadily increased its representation in the country’s regional and local political administrations. Moreover, while the party’s success may have been a sea change in Swedish politics, it was not the first time a far right populist party had broken through nationally. The New Democracy (NYD [Ny Demokrati]) party gained nearly 7 percent of the seats during the 1991 Riksdag election, before losing practically all of its votes in 1994.
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Few phenomena have been more disruptive to West European politics and society than the accumulative experience of post-WWII immigration. Against this backdrop spring two questions: Why have the immigrant-receiving states historically permitted high levels of immigration? To what degree can the social and political fallout precipitated by immigration be politically managed? Utilizing evidence from a variety of sources, this study explores the links between immigration and the surge of popular support for antiimmigrant groups; its implications for state sovereignty; its elevation to the policy agenda of the European Union; and its domestic legacies. It argues that post-WWII migration is primarily an interest-driven phenomenon that has historically served the macroeconomic and political interests of the receiving countries. Specifically, it is the role of politics in adjudicating the claims presented by domestic economic actors, foreign policy commitments, and humanitarian norms that creates a permissive environment for significant migration to Western Europe.
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The core puzzle which this book resolves is to explain why radical right parties have advanced in a diverse array of democracies--including Austria, Canada, Norway, France, Italy, New Zealand, Switzerland, Israel, Romania, Russia, and Chile--while failing to make comparable gains in similar societies elsewhere, such as Sweden, Britain, and the United States. This book expands our understanding of support for radical right parties by presenting an integrated new theory which is then tested systematically using a wealth of cross-national survey evidence covering almost forty countries.
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European migration policies are undergoing significant changes. After three decades of highly restrictive approaches, demographic changes and gaps in labour supply are prompting many European governments to liberalize their migration policies. Timely book examining the nature and impact of the changing migration policies in France, Germany and the UK. Analyses the content of new legislation, as well as the policy debate and party political treatment of migration issues in each country. Considers the implications of the new policies on other categories of migrants: asylum seekers, refugees and resident ethnic minorities.