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Political backlash against immigrant minorities and restrictive immigration policies have increased in western Europe. Most explanations of the adoption of restrictions on immigration have focused on ethnic competition for material resources and on national political factors. An alternative theory of political mobilization and restrictive policy changes argues that pressure from subnational politicians and social movement organizations and signals from dramatic anti-immigrant events such as riots lead national elites to infer that public interest in anti-immigration policies is intense enough to justify a break with liberal policies. This theory is tested against four cases in Britain and Germany, where the hypothesized processes are observed despite very different socioeconomic and political-institutional contexts.


This is the accepted manuscript of a work originally published in Comparative Politics.



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