The potential of immigrant parties: insights from the Dutch case

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A new party led by politicians of immigrant background entered Dutch parliament with three seats after the March 2017 national elections. This article investigates the success of DENK—an immigrant party promoting a clear pro-diversity agenda—and shows how this success is largely thanks to Dutch voters of Turkish and Moroccan background, using polling data by Ipsos and ScoRE. It also illustrates how these votes disproportionally increased with the number of residents of Turkish and Moroccan background in a neighborhood, using aggregate voting data from the statistical bureaus of Amsterdam and Rotterdam and the Dutch press agency ANP. That said, immigrant background does not fully explain the party’s success; DENK voters’ distinct ideological profile melds progressive and conservative attitudes in a combination thus far underrepresented among other parties’ followers, which is illustrated by additional analyses of the polling data. Similar immigrant electorates exist elsewhere in Western Europe. Meanwhile, mainstream parties have turned sharply to the right on immigration, integration, and Islam, alienating substantial segments of this electorate. Whether these circumstances lead to the rise of more successful immigrant parties depends on how open political institutions are and how mainstream parties behave.




Vermeulen, F., Harteveld, E., van Heelsum, A., & van der Veen, A. (2020). The potential of immigrant parties: insights from the Dutch case. Acta Politica, 55(3), 432–453.

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