Centre-right parties and immigration in an era of politicisation

Leila Hadj Abdou wrote an article for the Journal of Ethnic and Immigration Studies, together with Tim Bale and Andrew Peter Geddes


While not typically the focus for academic or journalistic analyses, centre right political parties have been, are and will likely remain key actors in migration policy and politics across Europe. This special issue introduction questions and qualifies the extent to which the 2015 migration crisis affected centre-right parties’ politics, positioning and policy positions on immigration, problematising the idea that the crisis represented an ‘external’ challenge to party politics and stressing instead the agency and role of political parties in imbuing crisis-like events with particular meanings. It argues that the crisis refracted and intensified social and value conflicts that were already developing in European party politics. While some policy innovations did occur, they tended to confirm directions that were evident before – sometimes long before – the crisis. The article emphasizes the need to pay attention to significant variation within the centre-right party family on immigration policy, and changes made over time by parties preoccupied with public opinion, with inter-party competition and with challenges posed by real-world events that were often beyond their control, but also with internal power struggles.


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