New Administration, New Immigration Regime: Do Parties Matter After All? A UK Case Study
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West European Politics
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Research on the impact of parties on public policy, and on immigration policy in particular, often finds limited evidence of partisan influence. In this paper, we examine immigration policy-making in the UK coalition government. Our case provides evidence that parties in government can have more of an impact on policy than previous studies acknowledge, but this only becomes apparent when we open up the ‘black box’ between election outcomes and policy outputs. By examining how, when and why election pledges are turned into government policies, we show that partisan influence depends not only on dynamics between the coalition partners, but how these dynamics interact with interdepartmental conflicts and lobbying by organised interests. In-depth process tracing allows us to see these complex dynamics, which easily get lost in large-n comparisons of pledges and outputs, let alone outcomes.