Comparative European Politics

, Volume 12, Issue 6, pp 637–662 | Cite as

The other ‘other’: Party responses to immigration in eastern Europe

  • Jan Rovny
Original Article


Eastern Europe has traditionally been a region of emigration, sending thousands of refugees and migrants to the more developed and democratic west. The recent democratization and rising affluence of some eastern European countries, however, make them increasingly attractive destinations of migrant workers, slowly but surely turning them into immigrant societies. This article addresses the responses of political parties to the issue of immigration and immigrant integration. Through large-N quantitative analyses of 11 eastern European countries using the Chapel Hill Expert Surveys, the 2009 European Election Study, the Database of Political Institutions and World Bank indicators, it analyzes the causes of immigration salience, as well as the reasons behind immigration and integration policy positions. The article argues that partisan and voter views on immigration in eastern Europe are guided by ideological views on ethnic minorities, which have been the traditional ‘out-groups’ in the region. Partisan positions on immigration and immigrant integration are consequently determined by underlying ideological principles concerning cultural openness and acceptance of ‘otherness’. Immigrants to eastern Europe are consequently viewed as the other ‘other’.


party competition eastern Europe immigration ethnic minorities 



The author would like to thank CEE and LIEPP, Sciences Po, Paris, and CERGU, University of Gothenburg. Further thanks go to Liesbet Hooghe, Gary Marks, James Stimson and Milada Anna Vachudova for helping shape the ideas on which this work is based. In addition, the author would also like to thank the editors of this special issue, Gregg Bucken-Knapp, Jonas Hinnfors and Andrea Spehar, the participants of the workshop on Political Parties and Migration Policy Puzzles, held at the University of Gothenburg, as well as the anonymous reviewer, for their constructive feedback. Dimitar Popovski provided valuable research assistance. A special thanks is reserved for Allison Rovny, my continuous supporter and editor. All outstanding errors are mine. This research was supported by the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet), grant number 421-2012-1188.


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jan Rovny
    • 1
  1. 1.Sciences Po, Paris and University of GothenburgParis, Cedex 07France

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