‘Against the other’ belongs to the core of populist rhetoric. Not surprisingly, the depiction of migrants as ‘the other’ and the rejection of migration in European societies has been one of the common positions of (authoritarian/radical right) populist parties in Europe since their rise. From the 2008 financial crisis to the 2015 refugee crisis and the more recent Brexit, new political issues were channelled not only by mainstream parties but also by new challenger parties. This paper builds on approaches of issue politicisation to explain variation in the degree and main characteristics of political processes. We distinguish between potential for mobilisation (objective factors) and party success to dig into political behaviour and its impact (Messina 2007). In short, we seek to uncover the trajectories of politicisation (or not) of issues related to the primary concern of populists, namely, solidarity against the other. The cases of Germany, Denmark and Spain are examined to dig into the configuration of the conflict and the differences in its structuring power.
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