The Evolution of the Immigration Debate: A Study of Party Positions Over the Last Half-Century

86 Pages Posted: 25 Jun 2018

See all articles by Rafaela M. Dancygier

Rafaela M. Dancygier

Princeton University - Department of Political Science; Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

Yotam Margalit

Tel Aviv University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: May 16, 2018

Abstract

Immigration is one of the most contentious issues across contemporary democracies, but this wasn't always the case. How has this development come about and what are its main features? We study how immigration evolved in the political debate in Western Europe over five decades by creating and analyzing a comprehensive new dataset of all immigration-related appeals made in pre-election manifestos by major parties. Our account focuses on three central debates. First, contra to perceived wisdom, we find no evidence of polarization between Left and Right. Instead, we document a striking co-movement. Second, we find only modest support for the argument that the success of anti-immigrant parties significantly shapes centrist parties' positioning on immigration. Finally, our evidence counters the claim that cultural issues have overtaken the debate over immigration. While the prominence of cultural appeals has increased in certain countries and elections, the economic dimension has overall remained the more prevalent.

Keywords: Immigration, Political Parties, Radical Right Parties, Elections, Party Manifestos, Western Europe

Suggested Citation

Dancygier, Rafaela M. and Margalit, Yotam, The Evolution of the Immigration Debate: A Study of Party Positions Over the Last Half-Century (May 16, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3192913 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3192913

Rafaela M. Dancygier (Contact Author)

Princeton University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Princeton, NJ 08544-1013
United States
609-258-4807 (Phone)

Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs ( email )

Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544-1021
United States

Yotam Margalit

Tel Aviv University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Tel Aviv
Israel

HOME PAGE: http://www.ymargalit.net

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