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Does immigration explain the European Right's electoral success?

The Economist's Charlemagne doesn't quite believe the argument but posts a possible explanation for why Europe's Right is benefiting from this decade's recession when Europe's Left benefited from the downturn of the 1990s:

"Normally, recessions benefit the left. The Golden Age for the centre left in the European Parliament was the 1990s when Europe had double digit unemployment and a nasty recession. Yet in the current recession, voters are turning to right-wing and xenophobic parties across the Old Continent, away from the parties that historically contributed much more to the construction of the European welfare state. Yet ideologically, parties of the left are unwilling to limit immigration or access to welfare for immigrants. So with unemployment and deficits rising, native born citizens have the "legitimate worry" that those defending redistribution will still end up forced to cut welfare payments, because they will not limit immigration."

A YouGov survey for MigrationWatch showed that immigration was the fourth most important issue for UK voters in last week's elections:

  • 51% said Britain's relationship with the EU
  • 51% said economy, jobs and standard of living
  • 40% said conduct of MPs
  • 35% said immigration
  • 14% said the environment
  • 12% said the NHS
  • 12% said crime
  • 7% said education.


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