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Dynamic Partisan Effects in Migration Policy

Globalisation
Integration
Migration
Immigration
Party Systems
Policy Change
Political Ideology
Philipp Lutz
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Philipp Lutz
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Abstract

Do parties matter in migration policy? Immigration has commonly been considered a cross-cutting issue internally dividing the left and right. However, the realignment of West European party systems around the issue of immigration would expect increasing partisan divides with more distinct policies between left-wing and right-wing governments. Over the same time, economic globalization and political internationalization increasingly limited the space for partisan politics. This paper tests both the realignment and the globalization hypothesis and argues that realignment results in distinct policies only in integration policy where governments are less constrained than in immigration policy. The empirical analysis of time-varying partisan effects is based on a cabinet-based dataset of migration policy reforms from 1980 to 2014 across 18 West European countries. The results reveal the dynamic nature of partisanship and confirm the realignment of migration policies with increasing divergence between left-wing and right-wing governments. However, to what extent governments are able to alter policy trends depends on the particular policy area. While governments implemented more liberal immigration policies over time independent of government ideology, integration policies have experienced a polarization effect. The findings provide important insights into the dynamics of partisan effects and migration policy making in times of globalization.