Immigration attitudes in the wake of the 2015 migration crisis in the Visegrád Group countries

Comparative insights of ESS7 and ESS8


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In the summer of 2015 the tensions over managing external immigration into the European Union morphed into a full-blown crisis. Political and social reactions towards the Balkan Route emergency exposed major divisions between EU member states. Notably, the Visegrád Group (V4) countries, i.e. Czechia, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, stood out as a block united by governmental opposition to immigration. This political unity of countries should not be interpreted, however, as certain proof for an underlying convergence of social attitudes to migration. This paper examines the impact of the crisis on the V4 public opinion on the basis of cross-country surveys, with special attention afforded to a comparative analysis of European Social Survey waves 7 (2014) and 8 (2016). General Linear Modelling is used to test two hypotheses concerning the linkage between opposition to immigration and normative orientations in Czechia, Hungary and Poland (with Slovakia missing from ESS7 and ESS8). We demonstrate that adherence to the values of Universalism corelates with lower levels of opposition to immigration, which had been the case prior to the 2015 crisis and has mostly remained true thereafter. When it comes to respondents expressing value-based concerns with Security, they are more likely to voice more negative opinions about immigration after the crisis, although no such association held in 2014 measurements. We postulate that this public opinion shift should be interpreted as an effect of the strong securitisation of the immigration debate in the V4 countries.






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