Political ideology and political orientation are, surprisingly, under-investigated concepts in research on immigration attitudes, especially in Europe (Hainmueller & Hopkins, 2014). Recent studies from US suggest that the ideology-prejudice link varies depending on contextual factors, such as concern over challenges to the in-group (national) boundaries (e.g. pronounced in-group threat or changing concept of national identity) (e.g. Lahav & Courtemanche, 2012; Hopkins, 2013). However, it remains unclear whether contextual factors affect only right-wing participants or have equal influence on those who are not initially anti-immigration, i.e. left-wing participants.
In the context of the 2015 migration wave, this paper investigates the interaction of political orientation, perceived threat and concept of national identity in explaining anti-immigrant prejudice among Croatian youth. The study was conducted in spring 2016 on a representative sample of high-school graduates of Zagreb and its suburban area (N=1050). The questionnaire assessed political orientation, perceived in-group threat, concept of national identity, cultural and religious practices and sociodemographics.
When controlling for sociodemographics, participants’ political orientation, perceived in-group threat, concept of national identity and cultural and religious practices explained a substantial amount of variance of anti-immigrant prejudice. Results revealed an interaction effect between perceived threat and political orientation. When perceived threat was high, there was no difference between left-wing and right-wing participants in the level of prejudice. Findings are discussed in relation to theories of prejudice that emphasize the role of concerns over potential challenges and threats to the in-group identity. The paper contributes to the existing literature by providing identity-based explanations of changes in social climate after large-scale migrations.