Comparative European Politics

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 1–32

Scapegoating: Unemployment, far-right parties and anti-immigrant sentiment

Original Article


Far-right parties blame immigrants for unemployment. We test the effects of the unemployment rate on public receptivity to this rhetoric. The dependent variable is anti-immigrant sentiment. The key independent variables are the presence of a far-right party and the level of unemployment. Building from influential elite-centered theories of public opinion, the central hypothesis is that a high unemployment rate predisposes citizens to accept the anti-immigrant rhetoric of far-right parties, and a low unemployment rate predisposes citizens to reject this rhetoric. The findings from cross-sectional, cross-time and cross-level analyses are consistent with this hypothesis. It is neither the unemployment rate nor the presence of a far-right party that appears to drive anti-immigrant sentiment; rather, it is the interaction between the two.


far-right parties anti-immigrant sentiment elite influence economic conditions ethnic competition 

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Political Science, University of TorontoScarboroughCanada

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