By using data from the first round of the European Social Survey (2003) involving six West European countries (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands and Norway), this article differentiates between immigration scepticism and xenophobic attitudes. The analyses strongly indicate that xenophobic attitudes are a far less significant factor than immigration scepticism for predicting who will vote for the new radical right. Moreover, this article analyses the extent to which anti-immigration frames employed by radical right-wing parties resonate with attitudes held by supporting voters, and to what extent they make a difference for people’s decision to vote for the radical right. The analyses indicate that frames linking immigration to criminality and social unrest are particularly effective for mobilising voter support for the radical right. Finally, the article criticises earlier research that explained radical right-wing voting with reference to ethnic competition theory. In contrast to much of the earlier research that used macro-level measures and comparisons, this study uses (self-reported) individual-level data on the degree of ethnic heterogeneity of people’s area of residence. Hypotheses derived from ethnic competition theory receive less support than expected, which indicates that earlier research may have overestimated the significance of these factors.
One note could be that Rydgren only looks at one factor (immigration) in this article. The next problem is how to integrate the “welfare nationalism” in parties like the Danish People’s Party. Should we see welfare policy as a separate cause for right-wing support or is welfare policy a second-order dimension? (Okay – I’m sure a couple of electoral researchers digging into existing data sets could answer this one pretty quickly).
HT: Niclas Berggren.
- Jens Rydgren (2008) Immigration sceptics, xenophobes or racists? Radical right-wing voting in six West European countries. European Journal of Political Research, 47:6, 737-765 [↩]