Tough positions, trustful voters? How mainstream party position-taking on immigration shapes political trust and its impact on far-right voting

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Mainstream parties have taken increasingly restrictive immigration policy positions across Western Europe. Yet the political consequences of this behaviour for citizens' democratic norms and practices are still not well understood. This article focuses on public political trust. Bridging the literatures on immigration-related trust and spatial theory, the spotlight is put on the consequences of mainstream party position-taking on immigration for the interconnectedness of citizens' immigration policy preferences, political distrust and far-right voting. An analysis of data from the Chapel Hill Expert Survey and European Social Survey across 14 Western European democracies (2006–2018) suggests that tougher immigration positions of centre-right parties in government weaken the link between immigration scepticism and political distrust and, in turn, the relevance of political distrust as a precursor of far-right voting. This has important implications for our understanding of immigration politics and advances the existing literatures on party competition, political trust and far-right voting in several ways.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGovernment and Opposition
Early online date21 Mar 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Mar 2024

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