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How Migration Is Shaping Western Politics


The recent European Parliament elections are the latest sign of immigration’s power to shape the West, David Leonhardt writes. ​Right-wing parties that had promised to reduce the flow of migration made gains, and center-right parties finished first by adopting a more restrictive stance.

The modern migration boom in the West has had major advantages, but it has also had downsides. More competition can hurt workers, governments strain to provide social services and some people can feel uncomfortable with societal changes. Historically, major immigration spikes have led to political backlashes, like Brexit.

For years, mainstream Western politicians dismissed voters’ concerns about immigration as inherently ignorant or xenophobic, and many of those disaffected voters came to support parties on the extreme right. But recently, there are signs that the political left and center have returned to a more nuanced approach that celebrates immigrants while emphasizing border security.

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