Policy populism? Political populism and migrant integration policies in Rotterdam and Amsterdam

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The political presence of populist parties has increased in Western Europe since the early 1980s. But populism cannot be limited to a political phenomenon only. However, in scholarly research the political aspects of populism take precedence over the policy aspects. The focus of this article is to what extent policy populism exists and if there is a relation between political populism on policy populism in the area of migrant integration policies. A combination of a qualitative discourse analysis and a quantitative content analysis is used for the analysis of both political and policy documents in two Dutch local case studies, the cities of Rotterdam and Amsterdam. By focussing on populism as relational concept and as discursive ordering, we show that the presence of policy populism is not dependent on political populism. Rather, there seem to be some elective affinities. Next to this, this article shows shifting discourses towards more inclusive-civic ingroups and exclusive-ethnic outgroups. This study shows the gradual sifts, presences and potentials of populist discourse in local politics and especially policies and the emergence of ethnic specificity in regard to these distancing discourses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)680-699
Number of pages20
JournalComparative European Politics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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