A double-edged sword!: The Dutch centre-right and the 'foreigners issue'

C.J. van Kersbergen, A.P.M. Krouwel

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


We study the impact of the 'foreigners issue' on centre-right politics in the Netherlands. This issue concerns a complex of problems related to migration, asylum-seekers, nationalism, multiculturalism and European integration. The Dutch centre-right has moved towards hard-line and restrictive policies in these areas. By connecting issues of immigration to right-wing core issues of law and order, centre-right parties hope to win an electoral advantage and to find an answer to populist political entrepreneurs. However, the politicization of immigration issues is a double-edged sword. Centre-right parties can benefit since they own the law and order and nationalist issues. But hard-line right-wing stances on immigration and multiculturalism also go against core centre-right values and may scare away voters. Too harsh a law and order, nationalistic and anti-foreigner profile can rip the centre-right apart. The direction of Dutch immigration and integration policies partly depends on the type of solution the centre-right finds for this dilemma.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)398-414
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of European Public Policy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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