Research on radical right politics shows that the immigration issue can reshape electoral alignments and patterns of political competition in favor of anti-immigrant parties. However, we know surprisingly little about the capacity of the immigration issue to generate electoral change in systems where radical parties are absent. On the basis of issue ownership theory, we show with longitudinal data that concerns over immigration strengthen the identification with the centre-right party owning the immigration issue, especially when primed by the media. Our results, obtained using the German Socioeconomic Panel and media content analysis, confirm strong priming effects among previous non-identifiers and among supporters of the issue owner, and weaker effects among former mainstream left-wing leaners. The findings suggest that the immigration issue is a relevant trigger of electoral change in mainstream political space, but is less likely to generate transfers of party loyalty. Our analyses refine the test of priming effects as a mechanism for issue ownership theory.
Political Behavior – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 6, 2013
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