Campaigning in Radical Right Heartland

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I had the pleasure to read Oliver Gruber‘s new book Campaigning in Radical Right Heartland. Focusing on Austria — home of the FPÖ — Oliver provides a detailed picture of party competition around an increasingly salient issue: immigration. The book is exceptional in that it starts in 1971 and thus is able to trace how the issue and party politics around it have evolved. Intriguing is for example how immigration has moved from the Greens towards the FPÖ in terms of salience, yet in terms of frames used there was no comparable shift. I will surely refer to it whenever my own research on the politicization of immigration touches Austria.

With a dual focus on party manifestos and press releases, Oliver’s results are surely robust, and with attention paid to twenty or so different subtopics and ten frames, Oliver heeds Joost Berkhout and my call to pay more attention to this level of analysis.

I was intrigued by the detailed frame analysis, and how frames were used to infer party positions. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to compare my own manifesto-based party positions with Oliver’s frames-based ones, but at first glance the different methods agree.

While it delivers on depth and attention to developments over time, the book doesn’t offer much in terms of comparison to other countries. I would have liked a full discussion of how the findings in Austria translate to other cases — especially because I am convinced there’s much to be learned. In this sense I can only recommend the forthcoming book from the SOM project, which includes Austria alongside six other Western European countries (it’ll come out soon with Routledge).

Oliver shows that the politicization of immigration is driven by party ideology and issue ownership. With developments over time covered in detail, the book will offer new insights to those interested in party competition and how the mainstream parties react to a popular challenger like the FPÖ.

Gruber, Oliver. 2014. Campaigning in Radical Right Heartland: The Politicization of Immigration and Ethnic Relations in Austrian General Elections, 1971 – 2013. Zürich: LIT Verlag. ISBN: 9783643905178

Ruedin, Didier, and Laura Morales. 2012. “Obtaining Party Positions on Immigration from Party Manifestos.” Presented at EPOP.

Ruedin, Didier. 2013. “Obtaining Party Positions on Immigration in Switzerland: Comparing Different Methods.” Swiss Political Science Review 19(1):84–105. DOI: 10.1111/spsr.12018

Van der Brug, Wouter, Gianni D’Amato, Joost Berkhout, and Didier Ruedin, eds. 2015 (forthcoming). The Politicisation of Immigration: A Comparative Study of Seven Countries (1995-2009). Routledge.

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