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.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Betz, H.-G. (1994). Radical right-wing populism in western Europe. Basingstoke: Macmillan.
Billiet, J. & Witte, H. de (1995). Attitudinal dispositions to vote for a ‘new’ extreme right-wing party: the case of ‘Vlaams Blok’, European Journal of Political Research 27: 181–202.
Brug, W. van der (1997). Where's the party? Voters’ perceptions of party positions. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam.
Brug, W. van der (1998). The informed electorate: political perceptions and party behavior, Acta Politica 33: 20–55.
Brug, W. van der (1999). Voters’ perceptions and party dynamics, Party Politics 5(2): 147–169.
Burden, B.C. (1997). Deterministic and probabilistic voting models, American Journal of Political Science 41: 1150–1169.
Donselaar, J. van (1991). Fout na de oorlog. Fascistische en racistische organisaties in Nederland 1950-1990. Amsterdam: Bert Bakker.
Donselaar, J. van & Praag, C. van (1983). Stemmen op de Centrumpartij: de opkomst van anti-vreemdelingenpartijen in Nederland. Leiden: COMT.
Eatwell, R. (1998). The dynamics of right-wing electoral breakthrough, Patterns of Prejudice 32: 1–31.
Eijk, C. van der & Franklin, M. (1996). Choosing Europe? The European electorate and national politics in the face of union. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press.
Eijk, C. van der, Franklin, M. & Brug, W. van der (1999). Policy preferences and party choice. In: H. Schmitt & J. Thomassen (eds.), Political representation and legitimacy in the European union. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Eijk, C. van der, Franklin, M. & Marsh, M. (1996). What voters teach us about European elections/what European elections teach us about voters, Electoral Studies 15: 149–166.
Eijk, C. van der & Niemöller, B. (1983). Electoral change in the Netherlands. Empirical research and methods of measurement. Amsterdam: CT Press.
Eisinga, R., Lammers, J., Lubbers, M. & Scheepers, P. (1998). Het electoraat van extreemrechtse partijen in Nederland in de periode 1982-1996. In: J. van Holsteyn & C. Mudde (eds.), Extreem-rechts in Nederland. Den Haag: SDU Uitgevers.
Fennema, M. (1997). Some conceptual issues and problems in the comparison of antiimmigrant parties in western Europe, Party Politics 3: 473–492.
Fennema, M. & Pollmann, C. (1998). Ideology of anti-immigrant parties in European parliament, Acta Politica 33: 111–138.
Franklin, M., Mackie, T. & Valen, H. (1992). Electoral change. Responses to evolving social and attitudinal structures in western countries. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Fuchs, D. & Klingemann, H. D. (1990). The left-right scheme: theoretical framework. In: M. K. Jennings & J. van Deth (eds.), Continuities in political action: a longitudinal study of political orientations in three western democracies. Berlin: De Gruyter.
Griffin, R. (1996). The ‘post-fascism’ of the Alleanza Nazionale: a case study in ideological morphology, Journal of Political Ideologies 1: 123–145.
Hamilton, R.F. (1982). Who voted for Hitler? Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Hix, S. (1999). Dimensions and alignments in European union politics: Cognitive constraints and partisan responses, European Journal of Political Research 35: 69–106.
Holsteyn, J. van & Mudde, C. (1998). Extreem-rechts in Nederland. Den Haag: SDU Uitgevers.
Husbands, C.T. (1983). Racial exclusionism and the city: the urban support of the National Front. London: Allen and Unwin.
Husbands, C.T. (1988). The dynamics of exclusion and expulsion: racist politics in western Europe, European Journal of Political Research 16: 701–720.
Ignazi, P. & Ysmal, C. (1992). New and old extreme right parties, European Journal of Political Research 22: 101–121.
Inglehart, R. (1984). Changing cleavage alignments in western democracies. In: R. Dalton, S. Flanagan & P. Beck (eds.), Electoral change in advanced industrial democracies. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Ivaldi, G. (1996). Conservatism, revolution and protest: a case study in the political cultures of the French National Front's members and sympathizers, Electoral Studies 15: 339–362.
Kitschelt, H. (1995). The radical right in western Europe. A comparative analysis. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.
Klingemann, H.D., Hofferbert, R.I. & Budge, I. (1994). Parties, policies, and democracy. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Knigge, P. (1998). The ecological correlates of right-wing extremism in western Europe, European Journal of Political Research: 34: 249–279.
Lubbers, M. & Scheepers, P. (1998). The German Republikaner electorate. Paper presented at the 'sociaal Wetenschappelijke Studiedagen 1998', Amsterdam.
Marsh, M. & Franklin, M. (1996). The foundations: unanswered questions from the study of European elections, 1979-1994. In: C. van der Eijk & M. Franklin (eds.), Choosing Europe? The European electorate and national politics in the face of union. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.
Marsh, M. & Wickham, J. (1996). New social movements on the right: class or culture? In: P. Timoránszky (ed.), Mobilization and policing of protest in western Europe and Hungary. (Special issue of Új Rendészeti Tanulmányok.)
Martin, P. (1996). Le vote Le Pen. L'électorat du Front national, Notes de la fondation Saint-Simon October/November 1996. Paris.
Mayer, N. & Moreau, P. (1995). Electoral support for the German Republikaner and the French National Front (1989-1994). Paper presented at the Workshop on Racist Parties in Europe of the ECPR Joint Sessions of Workshops, Bordeaux 27 April-2 May 1995.
Minkenberg, M. (1992). The new right in Germany: the transformation of conservatism and the extreme right, European Journal of Political Research 22: 55–81.
Mokken, R.J. (1971). A theory and procedure of scale analysis. With applications in political research. The Hague/Paris: Mouton.
Oppenhuis, E. (1995). Voting behavior in Europe. A comparative analysis of electoral participation and party choice. Amsterdam: Het Spinhuis.
Reif, K. & Schmitt, H. (1980). Nine second-order national elections. A conceptual framework for the analysis of European election results, European Journal of Political Research 8: 3–44.
Stimson, J.A. (1985). Regression in space and time: a statistical essay, American Journal of Political Science 29: 914–947.
Stouthuysen, P. (1993). Extreem-rechts in na-oorlogs Europa. Brussel: VUB Press.
Tillie, J. (1995a). Party utility and voting behavior. Amsterdam: Het Spinhuis.
Tillie, J. (1995b). Partijvoorkeur, partijconcurrentie en stemgedrag. In: J.J.M. van Holsteyn & B. Niemöller (eds.), De Nederlandse kiezer 1994. Leiden: DSWO Press.
Tillie, J. & Fennema, M. (1998). A rational choice for the extreme right, Acta Politica 33: 223–249.
About this article
Cite this article
Van Der Brug, W., Fennema, M. & Tillie, J. Anti-immigrant parties in Europe: Ideological or protest vote?. European Journal of Political Research 37, 77–102 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1007013503658