New paper: how left-wing parties politicize immigration

I’m happy to announce another paper coming out of the SOM (Support and Opposition to Migration) kitchen. João Carvalho and I have examined the way left-wing parties politicize immigration in 7 Western European countries. Most of the literature focuses on the right, and especially the extreme right. The same changes that supposedly enable the success of the extreme right also affect parties on the left. We often see the claim that immigration has become a political dimension that cuts across (economic) left and right.

We use the political claims analysis from the SOM project (7 countries, 1995 to 2009) to examine the salience, position and overall coherence of claims mainstream parties make on immigration. We distinguish between immigration control (not letting in immigrants) and immigrant integration (how to deal with those already here). Left-wing parties come with more positive/expansive positions on immigration. Drawing on the claims analysis, we find no evidence that immigration would be a cross-cutting cleavage in the 7 countries examined. We also find that left-wing parties exhibit higher levels of coherence than centrist and right-wing parties, suggesting that they use old-fashioned left-wing ideology to deal with the potential cross-pressures around immigration.

(I’ve never hidden my regression models so well than in this paper. Table junkies find them in the online supplement.)

In a lucky coincidence, I have come across a paper by Tarik Abou-Chadi and Werner Krause taking a quite different approach to the same topic. They use differences in electoral threshold and treat those as exogenous shocks to make causal claims about how the success of the extreme right affects the party positions of other parties. You don’t need to buy into the causal claims to be excited about this analysis!

Abou-Chadi, Tarik, and Werner Krause. 2018. ‘The Causal Effect of Radical Right Success on Mainstream Parties’ Policy Positions: A Regression Discontinuity Approach’. British Journal of Political Science, June, 1–19.

Carvalho, João, and Didier Ruedin. 2018. ‘The Positions Mainstream Left Parties Adopt on Immigration: A Crosscutting Cleavage?’ Party Politics.

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