Comparative European Politics

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 1–22 | Cite as

Party competition and positions on immigration: Strategic advantages and spatial locations

  • Pontus Odmalm
Original Article


The literature on party competition suggests that traditional conflict lines have either become obsolete or been replaced by new, less stable, ones. This development points to how political conflict has changed but also to how certain policy positions can be problematic to explain when these are linked to parties’ location on ‘Old’ and ‘New’ conflict dimensions. A particularly difficult issue has been party position(s) on immigration. Solely focusing on parties’ spatial location – on either conflict dimension – is insufficient for understanding the position that parties adopt. The article argues that a more fruitful approach is to simultaneously consider the degree of ownership – the strategic advantage – that parties have on particular conflict dimensions and parties’ spatial location therein. Comparing parties in Britain and Sweden, the article explores the extent to which this framework explains party positioning in two institutionally different contexts.


issue ownership party competition immigration comparative manifestos 



Research support under the Economic and Social Research Council's First Grant Scheme (Grant reference: RES-061-25-0195) is gratefully acknowledged. The author would also like to thank Mark Aspinwall, Wilfried Swenden, Martin Schain, Tariq Modood, Paul Statham and the two anonymous referees for their extensive comments which greatly improved the article's focus and analysis.


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pontus Odmalm
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Social and Political Science, University of EdinburghEdinburghUK

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