The Immigration Issue and Anti-Immigrant Party Success: Is Sweden the Odd Case Out?
The handling of the immigration issue by established parties and the electoral success of anti-immigrant parties are closely linked. Comparative research on anti-immigrant parties argues that articulation of the immigration issue by established parties help make anti-immigrant parties electorally viable. The Swedish case seems to challenge this view. While there is no successful anti-immigrant party, scholars claim that the immigration issue has been a salient issue for established parties at least since the mid 1990s. However, contradicting this claim, this paper argues that Swedish established parties have chosen to not articulate the immigration issue. It first demonstrates empirically that the immigration issue has indeed an electoral potential in Sweden. Using primary data on election manifestos and televised party leader debates from 1970 to 2006, it then shows that established parties have downplayed the immigration issue in their vote-seeking activities.
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