Why Most Anti-Immigrant Parties Failed in Western Europe 1980-2005
The extraordinary and highly consequential electoral successes of radical right parties in Western Europe in the last couple of decades are well documented. The evidence on how these parties’ successes are associated with their anti-immigrant appeals invites the conclusion that such appeals are an easy way to electoral success for minor parties willing to exploit this issue. This paper argues that this is not so, since it is nearly impossible for minor parties to make credible appeals to voters on the immigration issue unless they have reputational shields—a legacy that can be used to fend off accusations of racism and extremism. Not many minor parties deciding to run on the anti-immigrant ticket, it turns out, have such reputational shields. This paper presents newly collected evidence to show that six out of seven anti-immigrant parties failed to achieve sustained electoral success in a period when Europe was in an immigration crisis.