Beyond Radical Right: Immigration and the Centre-Periphery Cleavage
The immigration issue has attracted much attention from political behaviour scholars. However, this attention has been almost exclusively focused on the electoral fortunes of radical right parties. In spite of the scientific and normative interest of this approach, the focus on the radicalism of the issue has overshadowed the analysis of how immigration affects mainstream party competition and reshapes contemporary party systems. The main question emerging from this gap is: is the immigration issue able to affect mainstream party competition, and how? More specifically, this paper aims to partially answer this general question by testing the hypothesis that the immigration issue can particularly affect the electoral fortunes of regional parties, apart from radical parties. The implication of this hypothesis is that the immigration issue can get integrated in the centre-periphery cleavage in those systems where it exists, and can contribute to its electoral strength. The potential of this finding to shed light on the question about why radical right parties stabilise in some European countries and why they do not in others is discussed. The results are obtained via conditional logit models across more than 20 European countries using different waves of the European Social Survey.