Published: June 21, 2019

Shehaj, A., Shin, A. J., & Inglehart, R. (2019). Immigration and right-wing populism: An origin story. Party Politics

Published: 17 May 2019


Previous studies of right-wing populist (RWP) parties primarily investigate how domestic factors as well as external forces, such as immigration, incite the emergence and electoral success of RWP parties. Studies examining the link between migration and far-right support have found mixed empirical results, using various measures of immigration. In this article, we construct our own measures of immigration that highlight the economic and cultural dimensions of migrant-sending states in relation to migrant-receiving states. Our empirical analysis of 15 Western European countries uses these measures to examine whether the economic and cultural characteristics of migrant-sending states can enhance RWP success in wealthy, advanced democracies. We find some evidence that relatively large economic and cultural differences between natives and immigrants are conducive to RWP support in Western European countries. But the findings suggest that future research should identify and examine other factors that strengthen or undermine the extent to which RWP parties can make electoral gains by focusing on immigration.

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