Conceptions of national identity and attitudes towards immigration and multiculturalism : a comparative study of two ‘civic’ autonomist parties

Van Der Zwet, Arno (2012) Conceptions of national identity and attitudes towards immigration and multiculturalism : a comparative study of two ‘civic’ autonomist parties. In: CRONEM conference 2012, 2012-07-25 - 2012-07-27. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

This paper analyses attitudes towards immigration and multiculturalism in two autonomist parties, the Scottish National Party and the Frisian National Party. Both parties are members of the European Free Alliance, ‘an alliance of regionalist and civic, democratic nationalist parties in Europe’ (EFA website). However, the parties highlight the broad diversity of ‘civic’ autonomist parties; the SNP being a large governing party which utilizes an economic narrative to further its autonomist agenda whereas the FNP is a provincial party in the Netherlands with a strong cultural focus. Both parties have had to formulate policies and create a narrative in relation to immigration. This paper compares attitudes to immigration and multiculturalism in both parties by examining different conceptions of national identity. A mixed methods approach is adopted, including quantitative analysis of surveys of both parties’ memberships and semi- structured interviews with party elites as well as documentary analysis. It is demonstrated that contextual factors such as immigration pressures, demographic challenges and peripherality help to explain the parties’ official positions. These are, in general, positive towards immigration and multiculturalism. However, at an individual level there is considerable divergence between members in terms of attitudes towards immigration and multiculturalism.