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Adapting to party lines: the effect of party affiliation on attitudes to immigration

Journal article
Authors E. Harteveld
Andrej Kokkonen
Stefan Dahlberg
Published in West European Politics
Volume 40
Issue 6
Pages 1177-1197
ISSN 0140-2382
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Political Science
Pages 1177-1197
Language en
Keywords Attitudes on immigration, voting, heuristics, polarisation, public opinion, european integration, public-attitudes, opinion, support, exposure, triggers, identity, germany, threat, media, Government & Law
Subject categories Law and Society


Public opinion on immigration is increasingly relevant for political behaviour. However, little is known about the way in which citizens' political allegiances in turn shape their attitudes to immigration. Abundant existing evidence suggests that voters often take cues from the parties they support. Using panel data from the Netherlands and Sweden, this article investigates the dynamic relation between attitudes to immigration and party preferences. The longitudinal nature of the data allows for making stronger claims about causal mechanisms than previous cross-sectional studies. The analysis shows that voters who change their preference to the Radical Right become stricter on immigration, whereas voters changing to the Greens become less strict on immigration over time. This confirms that citizens' support for anti- and pro-immigration parties results in a radicalisation' of their views on immigration along party lines. A similar spiral' of radicalisation can be found around the issue of European integration.

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