Citizens with a Migration Background Involved in a Radical-Right Wing Party Restricting Immigration

Keywords: political commitment, migration, SVP/UDC, Switzerland, boundary-making strategies, sense of belonging


The populist radical right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP / UDC) has been largely known for its xenophobic discourses and its political agenda restricting immigration through popular initiatives such as the vote against minarets (2009), the deportation of “criminal foreigners” (2010) and the initiative against “mass immigration” (2014). This paper shows how SVP/UDC activists, who themselves or whose parents had migrated to Switzerland, understand their political engagement and contribution. This sheds light on their desire to become part of a “deserving minority” and on their use of boundary-making strategies to demarcate their positions from others they label as “undeserving migrants”. Their political engagement needs to be understood as part of a broader quest for belonging to the Swiss national community. By showing that migration-related experiences inform the political involvement of activists at the Swiss People’s Party, this paper questions widely spread assumptions on contradictory or counterintuitive political commitments.

Author Biographies

Simon Mastrangelo, Université de Neuchâtel

Simon Mastrangelo holds a PhD in social sciences (University of Lausanne). He worked as a SNF Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Swiss Forum for Migration and Population Studies (Université de Neuchâtel, Switzerland) within the framework of the project “An Improbable Commitment? Explaining Naturalized Citizens’ Political Engagement in the Swiss Social-Democratic Party and the Swiss People’s Party” (Project n°178840; dir. Prof. Gianni D’Amato). He is the author of the book “Emigrer en quête de dignité” (PUFR 2019), an ethnography of Tunisian undocumented migrations.

Leonie Mugglin, SFM – Swiss Forum for Migration and Population Studies, Université de Neuchâtel

Leonie Mugglin holds a MA in social sciences (University of Neuchâtel). She is a scientific collaborator at the Swiss Forum for Migration and Population Studies (Université de Neuchâtel, Switzerland). She worked on the project “An Improbable Commitment? Explaining Naturalized Citizens’ Political Engagement in the Swiss Social-Democratic Party and the Swiss People’s Party” (Project n°178840, dir. Prof. Gianni D’Amato) and is currently involved in several commissioned research projects.


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How to Cite
Mastrangelo, Simon, and Leonie Mugglin. 2024. “Citizens With a Migration Background Involved in a Radical-Right Wing Party Restricting Immigration”. Swiss Journal of Sociocultural Anthropology 29 (1).