Elections, Party Rhetoric, and Public Attitudes Toward Immigration in Europe

Elizabeth Dekeyser, Michael Freedman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent elections have highlighted how electoral cycles are often accompanied by increases in negative rhetoric surrounding immigration. Exploiting as-if random assignment in individual interview dates for the European Social Survey, this paper examines how proximity to elections affects individual preferences on immigration. We find that closer to elections, attitudes toward immigration become more negative. This effect is primarily driven by country-elections where party platforms are more likely to include anti-immigrant rhetoric. When elections are more distant, these effects largely disappear, highlighting the possibility that anti-immigration electoral mandates are based on artificially inflated concerns of the electorate about immigration. Overall, these results provide important insights into how elections influence issue stances and social cohesion in Europe.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)197-209
Number of pages13
JournalPolitical Behavior
Issue number1
Early online date21 Jun 2021
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • Elections
  • Europe
  • Far right parties
  • Immigration
  • Party rhetoric

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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