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Turning round the telescope: centre-right parties and immigration and integration policy in Europe

By Tim Bale


Because those who study migration do not focus much on parties, while those who study parties tend to focus on migration only insofar as it affects electoral competition and positioning, the role of political parties in immigration control and integration policy is underestimated. Parties on the centre-right, which have enjoyed nowhere near the attention devoted to their more radical counterparts, are particularly important and interesting in this respect. They make up many European governments and therefore help to determine state and EU policy. Maintaining their ownership of the issues involved makes electoral sense but their policies on control and integration are not purely, or at least primarily, a strategic response to the populist radical right; even before the rise of the latter, immigration and integration were matters of genuine ideological and practical concern for Europe's market liberal, conservative and Christian Democratic parties. Too hard a line, however, risks alienating their supporters in business and in civil society. It is a difficult balance, but one that makes a big difference both to the parties involved and the public policies they help to produce

Topics: JN, JV
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Year: 2008
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