Issues of immigration and the integration of foreigners have become topics of heated debate in the public and political arena in modern European democracies. According to Koopmans and colleagues (2005: 3) ‘immigration and ethnic relations (…) constitute since the early 1990s the most prominent and controversial fields of political contention in West European polities’. Parallel to this development, support for anti-immigration parties has increased in several Western European countries. Examples are the French National Front, the Austrian Freedom Party and the Flemish Bloc (since 2004 Flemish Interest) in Belgium. The Netherlands is an interesting case in the European context, because the right-wing populist challenge was rather ‘slow in coming’ (Kriesi et al. 2006: 163). A significant electoral performance of the far-right did not take place until 2002 and it had also failed to make any significant impact on the public debate until relatively recently. The Netherlands was therefore for long considered a ‘deviant case’ (Rydgren and Van Holsteyn 2004), just like for example Sweden, as the country met most conditions that according to established theories explain the emergence of far-right parties elsewhere, but these parties still remained relatively unsuccessful.
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Bijzonderheden: ACADEMISCH PROEFSCHRIFT ter verkrijging van de graad Doctor aan de Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam