In recent decades, citizenship policies in Europe have changed significantly: some governments have introduced restrictive new requirements for citizenship, while others have made citizenship more accessible. What explains this variation? Despite a burgeoning literature on both comparative citizenship and spatial competition among parties, scholarship on this question remains in its infancy and primarily focused on the influence of the far right. Expanding on this growing research, this article argues that citizenship policy change results from electoral competition on both sides of the political spectrum, in conjunction with governments’ ideological orientation. Using new data on citizenship policies across sixteen European countries from 1975 to 2014, the author demonstrates that left-of-center governments facing increasing levels of left party competition are associated with more accessible policy changes, while increasing levels of party competition from the far right yield more restrictive policy changes under not only right-of-center governments, but also centrist and left-of-center governments as well.
John Graeber, Parties on the Left, Parties on the Right: Electoral Competition and Citizenship Policy Change in Europe, British Journal of Political Science, 2020.