Skip to main content
The Relationship between Immigration and Nativism in Europe and North America
  • Cas Mudde, University of Georgia

Mass migration is thought to be a major factor behind the rise of the radical right. But while there clearly is a relationship (particularly in Western Europe), the connection is not as straightforward as is often assumed. Higher levels of immigration in the three regions examined in this report - North America, Western Europe and Central and Eastern Europe - do not correlate automatically to higher votes for radical right parties.

In short, the relationship between immigration and nativism is unclear and complex. Many assumptions are based on feeble empirical evidence - suggesting the need for more cross-national data projects. Rising numbers of immigrants do not automatically translate into increasing nativism in a country; immigration has to be translated into a political issue, which has not happened everywhere. Radical right party success probably doesn't change many opinions. Rather, it mainstreams existing anti-immigrants attitudes. While nativist sentiments and organizations have played a role in the tightening of immigration laws - particularly those regarding asylum - they have lost the big battle, as both Western Europe and North America are increasingly multiethnic societies.

  • nativism,
  • immigration,
  • Europe,
  • North America
Publication Date
May, 2012
Citation Information
Cas Mudde. "The Relationship between Immigration and Nativism in Europe and North America" (2012)
Available at: