Government of the People?: Right-wing Populism and Immigration Policy

Mr. Adrian Shin, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

This seminar examines how right-wing populist parties influence immigration policy when they are excluded from coalition governments. I argue that right-wing parties have limited direct influence on immigration policy when they are excluded from coalition governments since they cannot influence government policy directly. Yet coalition governments shift their stance on immigration policy when a large number of voters support right-wing populist parties because governments seek to exclude right-wing populist parties from coalitions while making policy concessions to xenophobic voters. Since right-wing populist parties tend to disrupt the status quo by being hostile to political compromise and diversity, coalition governments do their best to exclude them from policy making. This is the indirect influence of right-wing populist parties in immigration policy making. I find that coalition governments restrict low-skill immigration in response to an increase in support for right-wing populism regardless of their ideology. Contrary to conventional wisdom, coalition governments consisting of right-wing populist parties are no more likely to oppose immigration than governments without right-wing populism. I test the hypotheses by assembling new data on 12 European democracies’ immigration policies toward Third World nationals from 1950 to 2013. I pay close attention to policies that discriminate immigrants based on nationality and skill as well as policies that seek to control immigration inflows through quota and enforcement.

About the speaker
Adrian Shin is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Adrian was awarded a GROW Visiting Fellowship (Graduate Research Opportunities Worldwide) from the Dutch Science Foundation NWO, in collaboration with the US National Science Foundation, to do fieldwork in Europe for his PhD project "Primary Resources, Secondary Labor: Resource Booms and Immigration Policy in the Netherlands and Scandinavia". He is currently a MACIMIDE visiting junior research fellow based at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Political Science.

Venue: Conference room 0.16-0.17

Date: 16 February 2016

Time: 12:30 - 13:30


UNU-MERIT