Published by Taylor & Francis Online, 2023
Research article by Julia Rone (Minderoo Centre for Technology and Democracy) and Maik Fielitz
In 2018, the UN Global Compact for Migration (GCM) was signed by a majority of countries. The GCM was the first intergovernmentally negotiated agreement, prepared under the auspices of the United Nations, to cover all dimensions of international migration in a holistic and comprehensive manner. Seventeen countries, among them Italy, Austria, Hungary and Poland, abstained or voted against this non-binding agreement as they feared interference in their national sovereignty. The polarising potential of the GCM, that supposedly sets global regulations against national policies, has been fuelled by far-right actors throughout Europe. Framing the decision on the GCM as a referendum against the allegedly liberal governance of migration in the European Union, movements and parties launched a multi-faceted campaign that generated protest and spurred advocacy networks transnationally. In this paper, we analyse the extent to which the campaign against the GCM influenced foreign policy in the narrow sense of countries signing or not signing the pact (short-term impact), but also in terms of discourse and policy on immigration (long-term impact), more broadly. We explore the relative role of campaigning against the GCM by contrasting four country cases – Austria, Belgium, Germany, and Italy, each of which had different governmental constellations and previous extra-parliamentary mobilisation on migration. Our work offers a first in-depth comparative study of this key campaign that has otherwise remained understudied in the field of protest, media and extremism studies. By providing a comparative analysis of the same campaign in four European countries, we aim to offer important insights on how the far right is attempting to impact decision making in foreign policy contexts and what factors might explain its mobilisation and influence capacity.