Economic Decline and Extreme‐Right Electoral Threat: How District‐Level Factors Shape the Legislative Debate on Immigration

Eitan Tzelgov, Petrus Olander

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Abstract

This research examines the degree to which legislators respond to their districts by analyzing immigration-related legislative speeches from the Swedish parliament (2005-2016). Using a text-scaling method, we find that the immigration discourse fluctuates between `socio-economic responsibility' and `cultural difference' poles. We argue that socio-economic declines and extreme-right party success serve as an indication to MPs that there is demand for `cultural difference' rhetoric on immigration. Our statistical analyses support the argument and demonstrate that district-level economic declines can lead to an increase in the salience of cultural framing of migrants, especially in districts with a higher share of foreign residents. We also find that district-level extreme-right electoral success has a significant influence on legislative immigration discourse. Overall, the results have implications for studies of legislative texts, dyadic representation, and the impact of the populist right on legislative politics in Europe.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)649-679
JournalLegislative Studies Quarterly
Volume43
Issue number4
Early online date22 Oct 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018

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