Since the beginning of the 2000s, parties such as Jobbik in Hungary, the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy in the Netherlands and the Sweden Democrats in Sweden have taken seats in national parliaments. In other parts of Europe, for example in France and Austria, this type of party has been represented at local, regional and national level for some time. Radical right-wing parties have a populist and / or nationalist approach and a will to protect and preserve their own imagined nation from outside influences.

Although the radical right-wing parties in Europe aim to severely restrict immigration, there are few studies examining what their successes have meant for people's attitudes towards immigration and immigrants. The purpose of the study is therefore to investigate the significance of radical right-wing parties for attitudes to immigration between 2002 and 2012. The report is based on comparative data, both the consequences of right-wing radical election successes for the degree of immigration resistance in 16 European countries and for the development of immigration resistance over time. The study focuses on whether people's attitudes towards immigration have become more negative, whether the nature of the resistance has to do with the ethnicity of immigrants and whether attitudes have become increasingly polarized in the population as a whole.

Some overall conclusions and recommendations

  • The differences in the rise and fall of immigration resistance cannot be explained by the parliamentary presence of radical right-wing parties.
  • Immigration resistance is not greater in countries where radical right-wing parties have a stronger position.
  • The radical right-wing parties have not had any direct influence on the nature of immigration resistance or the polarization of attitudes towards immigration.
  • The increase in radical right-wing parties has not led to people in general becoming more inclined to prefer immigrants with the same ethnicity as the majority population in the country.
  • Further research is recommended on the subject at local and regional level as well as on understanding whether the emergence of right-wing radical parties can influence people's attitudes and actions in other ways.

About the report authors

The report, Radical right-wing parties and attitudes to immigration in Europe (2014: 1), is written by Andrea Bohman, senior lecturer at the Department of Sociology, Umeå University, and Mikael Hjerm, Professor of Sociology and Deputy Head of Department at the Department of Sociology, Umeå University.

Picture by Joakim Honkasalo from Unsplash.