- Public images of leaders of anti-immigration parties: perceptions of legitimacy and effectiveness
- Party Politics
- Volume | Issue number
- 16 | 6
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR)
Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
In the last two decades several anti-immigration parties have risen in Western Europe. Some of these parties have been very successful in elections, whereas others have been rather unsuccessful. Some scholars have argued that this success depends in part on the extent to which voters perceive these parties (and their leaders) as legitimate (not violent or undemocratic) and as effective. However, no studies exist that test the effect of these public perceptions on electoral support. We fill this void by proposing operationalizations of voters’ perceptions of parties in terms of legitimacy and effectiveness. These operationalizations were employed to measure public perceptions of leaders of two anti-immigration parties and leaders of four established parties that participated in the Dutch national parliamentary elections of 2006. The analyses of these data (n = 382) demonstrate the significance of measuring public images directly and show that legitimacy and effectiveness are important predictors of support for anti-immigration parties. Prior research showed that voters evaluate anti-immigration parties largely by the same criteria as they use to evaluate other parties. Our study demonstrates that this is only true when voters consider an anti-immigration party as effective and legitimate.
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