109 The Party Politics of Immigration Policy in Contemporary Europe

Wednesday, June 26, 2013: 9:00 AM-10:45 AM
2.13 (Binnengasthuis)
Immigration has risen to become one of the most salient issues on the political agenda across Europe. While recent elections have had mixed outcomes for parties who explicitly play the immigration card, there can be little doubt that the recession and austerity policies provide a fertile climate for further politicization of the immigration issue. The aim of this panel is to examine how the mainstream political parties that tend to form European governments develop their policy positions and influence immigration policy outputs through an examination of both intra- and inter-party dynamics. The political science literature on immigration and parties has tended to focus on extremist anti-immigrant parties. In comparison, the literature on how mainstream parties approach this intractable policy issue is smaller, but growing. One theme that emerges in this latter literature is that immigration is a divisive and cross-cutting issue, which does not align along the left-right spectrum. Internally, both centre-left and centre-right parties are often divided on immigration: the former between internationalist and protectionist factions, the latter between free marketeers and cultural conservatives. Hence immigration policy formulation is partly dependent upon intra-party dynamics. Parties must also of course respond to their competitors, which for mainstream parties in several European countries means not only other mainstream but also extremist parties. If intra-party divisions can be resolved and competitors seen off, many European parties then enter government only through the formation of multi-party coalitions, which adds another level of negotiation and compromise. Thus to understand the influence of political parties on immigration policy requires attention to intra-party debates, inter-party competition, and intra-coalition negotiations. The papers on this panel each explore different dimensions of this complex terrain, with the aim of contributing to a more nuanced, multi-level analysis of how and why political parties ‘matter’ for immigration policy.
James Hampshire
Jonas Hinnfors
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