English title: Immigration sceptics, xenophobes or racists? Radical right-wing voting in six West European countries

Author(s): Jens Rydgren -

Language: English

Type: Journal article

Year: 2008


Given how central the immigration issue has been for the new radical right-wing parties in Western Europe, many have turned to immigration-related factors in trying to explain their emergence and electoral mobilisation. This research has convincingly shown that immigration scepticism (i.e., wanting to reduce immigration) is among the principal factors for predicting who will vote for a radical right-wing party. However, earlier studies have often uncritically equated immigration scepticism with xenophobia or even racism. 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.

Volume: 47

Issue: 6

From page no: 737

To page no: 765

Refereed: Yes

DOI: 10.1111/J.1475-6765.2008.00784.X

Journal: European Journal of Political Research

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