Polarization in the Wake of the European Refugee Crisis – A Longitudinal Study of the Finnish Political Elite’s Attitudes Towards Refugees and the Environment

Jan-Erik Lönnqvist, Ville-Juhani Ilmarinen, Florencia M. Sortheix


We investigated political polarization among the 28284 candidates in the Finnish municipal election who ran for municipal council in 2012, 2017, or both, and had responded to a Voting Advice Application. Our results revealed political polarization in terms of both conversion (longitudinal analysis, n = 6643) and recruitment (cross-sectional comparison of first-time candidates, n = 13054). The populist radical-right Finns Party became even more anti-refugee, and the pro-refugee Green League became even more pro-refugee. The Finns Party, in particular, has constructed the Green League as their enemies, which could explain why the Finns Party moved in an anti-environmental direction, as well as the increased issue-alignment between refugee-attitudes and environmental attitudes. We also observed increased within-party homogeneity in almost all parties. In the discussion, we focus on the nature of the association between refugee and environmental attitudes.


political psychology; attitude change; immigration; environment; populism; elections

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  • Martti Puohiniemi, Markku Verkasalo (2020)
    Zeitgeist effects, fragmentation of media use, and value consensus
    Journal of Social and Political Psychology, 8(1), p. 300(ff.)

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ISSN: 2195-3325
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