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Cause or Consequence?

The Alternative for Germany and Attitudes toward Migration Policy

Hannah M. Alarian

Abstract

Does a far-right electoral victory change mainstream support for migration policy? Although we know how migration can shape support for the far-right, we know little about the inverse. This article addresses this question, exploring whether an Alternative for Germany (AfD) candidate's election changes non-far-right voter attitudes toward migration policies. In combining the German Longitudinal Election Study Short-Term Campaign panel with federal electoral returns, I find the AfD's 2017 success significantly altered migration attitudes. Specifically, policy support for immigration and asylum declined precipitously where an AfD candidate won the plurality of first votes. Yet these voters were also more likely to support multicultural policies for current immigrants. Successful AfD candidates therefore appear to enable both an endorsement of xenophobic rhetoric and a rejection of cultural assimilation.