The positions mainstream left parties adopt on immigration

  • A cross-cutting cleavage?
  • João Carvalho, Didier Ruedin
  • Party Politics, June 2018, SAGE Publications
  • DOI: 10.1177/1354068818780533

We examine whether left-wing parties take pro-immigrant positions

Photo by Nitish Meena on Unsplash

Photo by Nitish Meena on Unsplash

What is it about?

Often we can hear that immigration is a political topic that cuts across or overlaps traditional ideological divisions between parties. Many studies have examined the positions radical right parties take on immigration, but left-wing parties were largely ignored in this regard. We draw on newspaper contents in seven Western European countries to examine the positions of left-wing parties. We demonstrate that in many cases traditional divisions coincide with divisions over immigration: It is incorrect to assume that immigration as a political topic necessarily cuts across traditional cleavages.

Why is it important?

There is no doubt that immigration plays a big role in contemporary Western European politics. To understand political competition on the issue, we need to know how different parties place themselves, and how they react to other parties.


Didier Ruedin
Universite de Neuchatel

I remember vividly the dicsussion we had about this in the SOM project many years earlier, and thanks to the analysis of the newspapers we are now in a position to give an empirical rather than a theoretical answer. We were also quite keen not to use data from party manifestos in this case, because manifesto data capture electoral competition -- not necessarily the same we do here.

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The following have contributed to this page: Joao Carvalho and Didier Ruedin