Scientific article

Reassessing the gap-hypothesis: Tough talk and weak action in migration policy?

ContributorsLutz, Philipp
Published inParty Politics, vol. 27, no. 1, p. 174-186
Publication date2021

Much of the literature on migration policy has proclaimed a gap between what parties say and what parties do. The “gap-hypothesis” expects political parties to deliver “tough talk” and “weak action” on the issue of migration. This article tests this idea empirically by asking whether political parties keep their electoral promises on migration policy. The analysis of governments across 18 West European countries between 1980 and 2014 makes use of a new cabinet-based data set of migration policy outputs and two different data sets measuring parties' preferences on migration. The results show that governing parties enact systematically more liberal policies on immigration and integration than their electoral manifestos would suggest. The purported democratic deficit in migration policy is substantially the result of a limited fulfillment of the electoral mandate by governing parties. Nevertheless, governing parties act upon their electoral mandate dependent on the governing constraints and the electoral incentives. Overall, governments tend to deliver on their integration policy positions but not on their immigration policy positions. The manifesto–policy link is stronger in the domestic policy dimension where governments face fewer external constraints.

Citation (ISO format)
LUTZ, Philipp. Reassessing the gap-hypothesis: Tough talk and weak action in migration policy? In: Party Politics, 2021, vol. 27, n° 1, p. 174–186. doi: 10.1177/1354068819840776
Main files (1)
Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal1354-0688

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