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Recently the long time left-wing German politician, Sahra Wagenknecht, formed a left-wing anti-immigration party.This is unusual, as the left is normally associated with pro-immigration policies. Are there other examples of left-wing anti-immigration parties?

Note, I don't count parties such as the current Labour party in the UK, since under Keir Starmer the party cannot really be described as left-wing. I am interested in parties that hold genuinely left-wing / socialist economic stances whilst also being anti-immigration.

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  • Related: politics.stackexchange.com/questions/18871/… Commented Jan 25 at 18:09
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    You may want to specify modern left wing parties. Historically countries which hold the strongest "left-wing / socialist economic stances" were (and to a more limited extent, still are) all the most fervent anti-immigration places in the world.
    – tuskiomi
    Commented Jan 26 at 16:49

8 Answers 8

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In the US, wanting to slow down immigration as a means to tighten the labor supply (and thus strengthen the negotiating position of Labor) has historically been a stance of Labor Unions and their blue-collar voters. For example, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 many Americans these days consider to have been an embarrassing low point in US immigration legislation. However, the newly-formed AFL not only supported it, but argued for its expansion.

Labor Unions are usually reckoned as a very left-wing movement. These voters being supported by and supporting the Democratic Party was one of the foundations of the Fifth Party System in the US, which ran from 1932 until it broke up in the 1980's and '90s.

The breakup of these segments of the New Deal coalition was one of the major themes of Thomas Frank's What's the Matter With Kansas. His thesis was that the Democratic Party adopted the Republicans' more pro-corporate agenda on trade and immigration during the Clinton years. According to Frank's thesis, that weakened unions and left blue-collar voters who cared about those issues without a party. There was nothing left for them to use to choose between the two parties other than "social issues", which many working class voters tend to be on the conservative side on.

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    This might have historically been more of an issue in the US than in Europe, because high levels of immigration has been a feature of the nation since its inception.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jan 24 at 16:58
  • My only nitpick with this otherwise great answer is that it's pretty US-centric... Commented Jan 25 at 13:58
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    In the UK, many of those who supported Brexit were low-paid workers who believed rightly or wrongly that their wages were depressed because of competition from cheap foreign labour. Historically, much of the opposition to the Common Market, later EU, came from left-wing politicians such as Tony Benn who felt that membership would dilute workers' rights and living standards. Commented Jan 26 at 10:24
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    And arguably, the poor showing of the Labour Party in the 2019 general election was largely because the party "sat on the fence" on the question, having failed to reconcile the views of the well-educated liberal socialists in the party's elite with those of its traditional working-class power base. Commented Jan 26 at 10:29
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    After sleeping on it a bit, I think @JaredSmith has a pretty good complaint in there, in that every time the question text went into specifics, it was talking about parties in Parliamentary Democracies. US "parties" are completely different animals, owing to the death grip Duvergers' Law has on the system. In the absence of question clarification, I'd encourage readers with that concern to translate "party" in the US sense to "coalition", and to consider terms like "Labor" and "blue-collar voters" to be our "parties".
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jan 26 at 13:49
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  • Denmark's Social Democratic Party

Foreign Policy, "How the Danish Left Adopted a Far-Right Immigration Policy", (2021):

In recent years, the Social Democrats as well as other mainstream parties have supported and pushed further tightening of an already restrictive immigration system, often adopting the same policies that far-right parties have recommended. ...

The Social Democrats won the [2019] election and decided to continue with their plan of strict immigration policies, getting the necessary votes to form a minority government from left-leaning parties that focused more on other policy areas, such as climate reform.

  • Sweden's Social Democratic Party

From TheLocal.se (2022):

The leader of Sweden's Social Democrat opposition has backed the harsh new policies on crime and immigration included in the new government's programme, and even signalled openness to the much-criticised begging ban. ...

Magdalena Andersson said her party was absolutely agreed on the need for a stricter immigration policy for Sweden, going so far as to take credit for the Social Democrats for the illiberal shift.

"There is absolutely no question that need a strict set of migration laws," ..

"The paradigm shift happened in 2015, and it was us who carried it out," she said. "The big rearrangement of migration policy was carried out by us Social Democrats after the refugee crisis of 2015, with a thoroughgoing tightening up of the policy." ...

the Social Democrats were not in principle against even the new government's most criticised proposal: to slash the number of UN quota refugees from around 5,000 to 900.

Rather than criticise the new government for being too extreme on migration, Andersson even attacked it for not being willing to go far enough.

  • Germany's Social Democratic Party (SPD) and Greens

Then-SPD leader Andrea Nahles (2018):

It is therefore correct to declare the Maghreb states to be safe countries of origin ... People who are neither tolerated nor recognized as asylum seekers must realize more quickly that they cannot stay and will be returned ... This is inevitably part of the welcoming culture. It only works together with an assertive constitutional state. Anyone who needs protection is welcome. But we can't take everyone in. (Google translated)

In 2023,

Green co-chair Ricarda Lang ... criticized key officials from her two coalition partners for not doing enough to ensure that asylum seekers without a valid reason to stay, such as fleeing a warzone, are being sent back to their home countries. ...

The government must act “to avoid more and more people arriving,” Lang said.


By the way, you state,

the left is normally associated with pro-immigration policies

I'm not sure if this is true. Traditionally/normally, in many countries, the left too was anti-immigration. This was consistent with the left being more anti-free market (and so in particular anti-freedom of movement), pro-(native) labor, and pro-protectionism.

Notably, this used to be the case in the US (but is no longer so):

enter image description here

(Above from NPR, 2019. Source: Pew Research Center.)

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    Even the most pro-immigration party won't say "let's let everyone in who wants to come" - that would be political suicide. In Germany (which I am most familiar with), the debate is about two categories: (a) asylum seekers, which are allowed to stay for humanitarian reasons (but have to come from a country where they're actually threatened) and (b) skilled workers - where the current government wants to make the process easier and shorten the period after which someone can apply for citizenship.
    – rob74
    Commented Jan 24 at 16:34
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    Shame that graph doesn't go back into the 1940's or 50's, but I think scientific polling itself is fairly new.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jan 24 at 21:50
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    Some of these examples are quite misleading. The German left-wing parties are much criticising Sarah Wagenknecht as being too anti-immigrant, they're just also eager to show that they aren't just naïve but want the immigration to happen in an orderly manner. And as for Sweden, there it is indeed quite pervasive now to take an open anti-immigration stance, but it is more of a "things have gone to far and out of control, we need to slow down for the moment to make this work". Again, the left-wing parties are still overall more pro-immigration than the right-wing ones. Commented Jan 25 at 18:36
  • > Even the most pro-immigration party won't say "let's let everyone in who wants to come" @rob74 In Germany, they do. Commented Apr 11 at 16:30
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I wonder if you would consider CCP / CPSU. Both of these parties are left-wing, socialist ruling parties who keep/kept immigration in check in their countries.

One can argue whether CCP is really socialist, but CPSU was quite left-wing with socialized housing, affirmative action policy and equalized wages - yet it did not allow any meaningful immigration into USSR nor did it want to. It could make exception for a few poster cases, but was disinterested in the common folk of developing countries. They could come in to study, but would not be allowed to stay.

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    Probably not. If a party is the sole ruling party, by law, like the Communist Party in PRC or like it was in the USSR, what matters is the fractions within the party. Because party membership is a requirement for any government employment, at any level of the government, it's just a license to be in the government. It's not a political party in the tradition sense of the term. It has some elements that all political parties have, but it lacks some other elements which are generally considered required for an organization to be a political party.
    – wrod
    Commented Jan 24 at 17:19
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French Communist Party, ~1980-1990

Georges Marchais, First Secretary of Parti Communiste Français (PCF, French Communist Party) and candidate in the presidential election of 1981, took a hard stance on immigration, which he accused of causing unemployment and lower wages for French workers.

"Il faut stopper l'immigration officielle et clandestine."

"Legal and illegal immigration has to be stopped."

This became PCF official position for about a decade, during a period of electoral decline for this party (communist scores in Presidential election: 21% in 1969, 15.35% in 1981, 6.7% in 1988).

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Although Besides Jamaica, are there other countries where a "Labour" (or Workers' etc.) party is actually right-wing/conservative? is not the same question as Anti-immigration left-wing parties, and thus I wouldn't flag it as a duplicate, most of the answers in there can certainly apply here, as long as we consider anti-immigration policies to be "right-wing".

That being the case, I will give almost the exact same answer I gave to that other question:

Spain's Frente Obrero (literally: "Workers' Front") exactly fits the description:

Despite being strongly connected with the PML(RC) and supporting far-left ideologies such as Marxism-Leninism, the FO is not explicitly communist. Their political ideology is a syncretic combination of left-wing economic positions and right-wing social viewpoints.

In their program A Spain for the Workers, they defend national sovereignty, Hispanic identity, free university education, the nationalization of strategic economic sectors, energy sovereignty, nuclear energy, increasing the minimum wage, supporting the rural sector, promoting birth rates, creating more public housing, introducing rent control and limiting immigration.

They oppose capitalism, the European Union, NATO, surrogacy, feminism, deindustrialization, queer ideology, the Trans Law, positive discrimination, islamization, cosmopolitanism and political correctness.

(Emphasis mine on anti-immigration policies.)

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I think it's more accurate to think that left-wingers tend to oppose immigration for reasons of economic management.

Both the USSR and the PRC - if they can be adduced as examples of states with some kind of sympathy for left-wing philosophy - were/are relatively controlled about immigration.

Left-wingers are not in general cultural (or racial) chauvinists, so in some cases they may be openly opposed to those who are.

Sections of the right who oppose immigration tend to be either settled working class people who find comfort in chauvinism and the solidarity of their community, and like the security of living amongst those who are known and familiar, but aren't necessarily aggravated enough to become ideological in any way. They may not be significantly opposed to individual migrants, if there isn't an implied threat of flooding or significant competition for resources.

Other sections of the right may be highly ideological about immigration for racial or Darwinist reasons - often bourgeois types who want the comfort of continuing to live in a settled community where they have a good position, and who have sophisticated ideas that they need to keep in proper order, but cannot adopt left-wing objections to immigration and so must find something else.

The main proponent of uncontrolled immigration and mass movements of people, has always been the capitalist liberal, who amongst other reasons enjoys using immigration to apply wage pressure to local workers whilst draining foreign societies of skilled adult labour.

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My understanding is that the Slovak "Smer" party fits your description.

I do not understand Slovak, so my source for this is English-language Wikipedia as well as German-language media, e.g. this piece in derstandard.at.

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I would state that no such party is a “left” one, no matter how they choose to call themselves nor how other their views are left-leaning. To be mocked as “alt-left” at best. As this stands against:

  1. egalitarianism, everyone is inherently equal,
  2. post-colonialism, as colonialism created the inequality and people are looking for better lives on the other hemisphere,
  3. ecology, as the climate disaster, hits the Global South (GS) much harder than the Imperial Core (IC), and it will make more GS land unlivable and some countries, like Kiribati [1,2]
  4. anticapitalism.

As capitalism feeds from all of the above problems:

  • migration is used as a cheap labour and a subjugation measure against the working class (despite the migrants being working class themselves); this causes the capitalists' interest in portrayal of migrants as „lazy jobstealers”, to keep the local working class antagonized and scared, so they won't ask questions about their conditions,
  • causes the climate disaster (essentially №3),
  • causes colonialism and exploitation of the Global South, which creates the migration (essentially №2),

And to cap it off, it's inhumane. Because the above reasons are so great in the GS, that people risk their lives to travel to the IC. Read about any disaster of boat traveling the Mediterranean Sea and their treatment by the coastal guards, about the Polish-Belarus border (bonus: contrast that with the Polish society reaction on the Ukrainian, war-related migration), about the UK openly being against the international law, EU paying off the post-Kadafi chaos, Frontex. (EU-related examples, as they're the closest to me.)

People risk their lives because at home they don't have lives.


There are of course valid reasons for not accepting everyone and criticising the past and current migration politics and their effects. Just the key is to not stop at the first thought „migration bad” but drive down deep from „why people migrate?”, to „what happens if we take a bunch of people and treat them as more or less disposable tools in political conflicts?”

As Max Frish said: “We asked for workers. We got people instead.”

So, if you're against migration, then you're not a leftist. Good bye


To comment on few “thoughts” from the quoted article:

The price for increased competition for affordable housing, low-wage jobs and failed integration is not primarily paid by those who are well off.

What system causes inequality and makes human rights, as housing, too much of a cost? The one you should be against?

The SPD and Greens have now also made a U-turn on migration policy and want to limit irregular immigration to Germany. At the same time, they are planning cuts in economic and social policy. "Reality is being forced upon these parties," says Patzelt.

Reality of telling that the system is not working? Reality of telling that the system is not working, right?

(Also „Querfront”, are you on the left if you support the right? Also, also dude uses the term „woke” to justify that the left has shifted solely to identitarian politics, leaving the working class. Which most often that not is just right-spread falsehood.)

Germany's left-wing parties, he believes, should focus on "the little people whose familiar living environments are endangered by globalization and the migration that accompanies globalization, among other things."

The people from the Global South, right?


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    "if you're against migration, then you're not a leftist" - that's true, but technically speaking, the question asks for "parties that hold genuinely left-wing / socialist economic stances whilst also being anti-immigration", which is still possible even if those parties aren't actually leftist.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Jan 27 at 10:24

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