Immigration Policy and Left-Right Politics in Western Europe

  • Trevor J. AllenEmail author
  • Misty Knight-Finley
Reference work entry


Immigration and migrants have been increasingly politicized across Western Europe in the twenty-first century, corresponding to the rise of the radical right. Focusing events in the early 2000s lent salience to a now-familiar far right brand of ethnocentric, anti-immigrant identity politics, as distinct from emphases on immigration’s economic impacts. This research considers the extent to which multiculturalism and ethnocentrism, exploited by the far right, remain disconnected from economic conflict in West European party systems. Specifically, we evaluate the relationship between the traditional left-right economic dimension and a more recent multiculturalism-ethnocentrism dimension structuring party competition in nine Western European nations. We use expert positioning of political parties to describe the evolution on these two dimensions at four time points from 1999 to 2014. While party positions on multiculturalism are mostly distinct from positions on economics in 1999, positioning on the two dimensions becomes highly correlated by 2009, increasing further in 2014. The shift is driven both by the far right’s de facto absorption of rightist economic policies, and the mainstream right’s increasing ethnocentrism. It is proposed that the far right is the principal actor behind this realignment, and policy implications are explored.


Far right parties Party systems Multiculturalism Western Europe 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceCentral Connecticut State UniversityNew BritainUSA
  2. 2.Department of Political Science and EconomicsRowan UniversityGlassboroUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Joseph Rudolph
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceTowson UniversityTowsonUSA

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