Europeans, Shut the Borders! Anti-refugee Mobilisation in Italy and France
While far-right politics have long been considered exclusively a party phenomenon, in recent years various organisations have emerged throughout Western Europe that are engaged in street politics, extra-parliamentary activities, and hybrid forms of mobilisation. The refugee crisis acted as a catalyst for far-right street politics, which have developed into an integral part of the broader anti-immigration movement. The chapter provides an account of the rationale, nature, and form of mobilisation against refugees in Italy and France, two countries characterised by very different patterns of migration politics. We draw on 23 face-to-face interviews with key activists from different types of far-right organisations in the two countries, which allows exploring the meaning of far-right mobilisation in terms of targeted groups, repertoires of contention, and frame construction. Our findings indicate that the refugee crisis changed not only the size and scope of anti-immigration protest but also its nature. In both Italy and France, contemporary anti-refugee mobilisation involves far-right political parties, as well as social movements and grassroots organisations. What is more, these actors engage in a variety of actions, ranging from demonstrative and pacific street demonstrations to confrontational actions which often lead to violence. While we could detect a number of differences in the way in which French and Italian movements framed anti-refugee campaigns, the findings suggest that the refugee crisis has changed far-right mobilisation not only in quantitative but also in qualitative terms.
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