European Journal of Political Research

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 77–102 | Cite as

Anti-immigrant parties in Europe: Ideological or protest vote?

  • Wouter Van Der Brug
  • Meindert Fennema
  • Jean Tillie


In this article we address the question whether or not the votes for anti-immigrant parties can be considered as protest votes. We define protest votes by the motives underlying electoral choices, building on earlier research done by Tillie (1995) and Van der Eijk & Franklin (1996). That research showed that ideological proximity and party size are the best predictors of party preference. On this basis we designed a typology of motives for party choice and how these motives would manifest themselves empirically. Analyzing the 1994 elections for the European Parliament for seven political systems we show that anti-immigrant parties attract no more protest votes than other parties do, with only one exception: the Dutch Centrumdemocraten. Voting for anti-immigrant parties is largely motivated by ideological and pragmatic considerations, just like voting for other parties. In addition, (negative) attitudes towards immigrants have a stronger effect on preferences for anti-immigrant parties than on preference for other parties. Social cleavages and attitudes towards European unification are of minor importance as determinants of preferences for anti-immigrant parties. The overall conclusion is that a rational choice model of electoral behavior has strong explanatory power for party preferences in general, but also for the support for anti-immigrant parties in particular.


Good Predictor Explanatory Power Early Research Choice Model Political System 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wouter Van Der Brug
    • 1
  • Meindert Fennema
    • 2
  • Jean Tillie
    • 2
  1. 1.The Amsterdam School of Communications ResearchUniversity of AmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Institute for Migration and Ethnic StudiesUniversity of AmsterdamThe Netherlands

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