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Paradoxes of Liberal DemocracyIslam, Western Europe, and the Danish Cartoon Crisis$
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Paul M. Sniderman, Michael Bang Petersen, Rune Slothuus, and Rune Stubager

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691161105

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691161105.001.0001

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Flash Point

Flash Point

The Ideological Bases of Anti-immigration Politics

(p.82) Chapter 4 Flash Point
Paradoxes of Liberal Democracy

Paul M. Sniderman

Michael Bang Petersen

Rune Slothuus

Rune Stubager

Princeton University Press

This chapter aims to bring to light how—and why—the ideological foundations of party systems in western Europe pose a potentially explosive threat to the inclusion of immigrants. It has, of course, long been recognized that right-wing ideological values are a major force propelling anti-immigration politics. Though by no means the only symptom, the most florid expression is the rise of radical anti-immigration parties—among others, the National Front in France, Freedom Party in the Netherlands, Flemish Interest in Belgium, and Freedom Party of Austria. Rather than focus on such anti-immigration parties, the chapter looks at the political mainstream. It examines what is happening at the center of politics, not at its extremes. It shows that a large pool of voters predisposed to respond to the appeals of anti-immigration parties are gathering at the political center. They have not yet become adherents of extremist parties, and it is not preordained that they will. But they have a bent of mind—an ideological outlook—that makes them susceptible to extremist appeals. The real potential for change in the future rests with those who are presently centrists yet potential defectors to the political extremes.

Keywords:   western Europe, anti-immigrants, anti-immigration, right-wing ideology, party systems, political center, centrists

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