Whose Interests Do Radical Right Parties Really Represent? The Migration Policy Agenda of the Swiss People´s Party between Nativism and Neoliberalism

Korkut, U; Bucken-Knapp; McGarry, A; Hinnfors, J.; Drake (2013) The Politics of Migration in Europe. New York: Palgrave

17 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2011 Last revised: 12 Nov 2012

Date Written: November 12, 2012

Abstract

This paper analyses the economic interests which underpin the immigration policy agenda of the strongest radical populist right party in Western Europe, the Swiss People´s Party. Rather than understanding this agenda merely as the manifestation of anti-immigration resentment or the exploitation thereof, it proposes to analyse it as a political-economic agenda seeking to articulate the contradictory interests of its two main electoral clienteles, namely small business owners and blue-collar workers. Hence, while it claims to oppose immigration to protect the domestic indigenous workforce, the Swiss People´s Party also seeks to maintain sources of cheap migrant labour for small businesses. Drawing upon an analysis of party stances over policy reforms in the domains of cross-border mobility and undeclared work, it shows that the interests of small business owners tend to prevail when issues are not very salient politically, while party elites shift back to a more anti-immigration agenda when issues become very salient politically.

Keywords: anti-immigration parties, economic interests, Swiss People's Party, Switzerland

JEL Classification: F22, P16, P52

Suggested Citation

Afonso, Alexandre, Whose Interests Do Radical Right Parties Really Represent? The Migration Policy Agenda of the Swiss People´s Party between Nativism and Neoliberalism (November 12, 2012). Korkut, U; Bucken-Knapp; McGarry, A; Hinnfors, J.; Drake (2013) The Politics of Migration in Europe. New York: Palgrave. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1948678 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1948678

Alexandre Afonso (Contact Author)

Leiden University ( email )

Postbus 9500
Leiden, Zuid Holland 2300 RA
Netherlands

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