Marginalisation or legitimation? Mainstream party positioning on immigration and support for radical right parties
Does mainstream party positioning contribute to marginalising or legitimising niche party positions? This article argues that voter perceptions of the legitimacy and credibility of niche party positions play a role in individuals’ propensity to vote for niche parties. It finds that the adoption of more restrictive immigration positions by mainstream parties increases the likelihood that those people who do not recognise the issue competence of radical right parties on immigration will vote radical right. However, for individuals who already perceive the radical right to be competent on immigration, mainstream party adoption of more restrictive immigration positions has no effect on propensity to vote radical right. In addition, the increase in the propensity of individuals to vote radical right is predominantly a function of mainstream left parties adopting more restrictive immigration positions. These results imply that mainstream parties risk fuelling radical right party support by adopting more restrictive immigration positions.