Richard Traunmüller, Marc Helbling
Backlash to policy decisions. How citizens react to the permission and banning of immigrants’ right to demonstrate

Political Science Research and Methods, 2022: 10, issue 2, pp. 279–297
ISSN: 2049-8470 (print), 2049-8489 (online)

Focusing on one specific aspect of immigrant political integration—how authorities deal with their political right to demonstrate—we show in a large-scale survey experiment that liberal policy decisions permitting demonstrations lead to a polarization in attitudes: citizens who agree with a permission become more sympathetic, while those in favor of banning become more critical of immigrants. This notion of opinion backlash to policy decisions adds a new perspective to the literature on immigration attitudes which has either assumed a congruence between public opinion and policy or ignored political sources of anti-immigrant sentiment altogether. By exploring the unintended consequences of policy decisions, we provide an alternative view and demonstrate the inherent dilemma of balancing citizen opinion and minority rights.