Anti-immigrant political rhetoric is proliferating in Europe, inspiring research to examine the potential effects on public opinion. However, studies of the reactions of first- and second-generation immigrants—the objects of this rhetoric—remain scarce. In this talk, I argue that elite rhetoric should be treated as a context of integration affecting political outcomes, in particular political belonging. To that end, I combine qualitative evidence from focus group discussions conducted in Denmark, a high-salience context, and quantitative evidence from cross-national survey and party manifesto data from 18 Western European countries over a 10-year period. In addition to demonstrating a negative mean effect, the analyses show that those most in focus of contemporary political messages (Muslims and immigrants with shorter educations) are most affected, suggesting a sophisticated processing of elite rhetoric. In contrast, traditional explanations concerning structural incorporation, immigrant generation and exposure to rhetoric are not supported. I will discuss the implications of the results for democratic inclusion in contemporary Europe.
A presentation by Kristina Bakkær Simonsen, Department of Political Science, Aarhus University (Denmark)