European Political Science

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 378–403 | Cite as

the electoral payoff of immigration flows for anti-immigration parties: the case of Italy’s Lega Nord

  • gabriele abbondanzaEmail author
  • francesco bailo


The aim of this article is to examine and quantify the relationship between regular immigration and voting for anti-immigration parties in Italy’s eight Northern regions – from 1992 to 2015 – and in Italy’s forty-five Northern provinces from 2004 to 2015. Firstly, we identified the Lega Nord as Italy’s main xenophobic party, then we used a fixed effects regression model for panel data to test our hypothesis, while controlling for a series of social, political and economic variables. Our results suggest that there is a positive and significant effect: an increase of 1 per cent in the number of new regular immigrants is associated with an increase of more than 2 per cent in the votes given to the Lega Nord; voter-turnout is significantly and negatively associated with Lega Nord’s vote-share, and a high perception of crime – but not actual crime – is positively associated with anti-immigration votes. At the provincial level, we also found a positive association between Muslim foreign population and Lega Nord’s vote-share. These results ought to be considered along with the fact that Northern Italy is highly representative of the wealthiest and most densely populated regions of Europe, suggesting the possibility that similar phenomena could be witnessed in other comparable contexts.


euroscepticism and the European Union far-right politics political parties and electoral behaviour 



The authors wish to thank co-editor Associate Professor Daniel Stockemer and the anonymous reviewers of EPS for their helpful comments on this study.


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Copyright information

© European Consortium for Political Research 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for International Security StudiesUniversity of SydneyCamperdownAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Government and International RelationsUniversity of SydneyCamperdownAustralia

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