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The mobilization of culturally rooted issues has altered political competition throughout Western Europe. This article analyzes to what extent the mobilization of immigration issues has affected how people identify with politics. Specifically, it analyzes whether voters’ left/right self-identifications over the past 30 years increasingly correspond to cultural rather than economic attitudes. This study uses longitudinal data from the Netherlands between 1980 and 2006 to demonstrate that as time progresses, voters’ left/right self-placements are indeed more strongly determined by anti-immigrant attitudes than by attitudes towards redistribution. These findings show that the issue basis of left/right identification is dynamic in nature and responsive to changes in the political environment.
Catherine E. de Vries is Professor of European Politics and Fellow of Lincoln College, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford, Manor Road Building, Manor Road, Oxford OX1 3UQ, United Kingdom (
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