Photo: “Catholic_mission_Duekoue_0082“, by Michael Fleshman licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. Hue modified from the original

Woods, Dwayne. “A Boat Load Too Many: How the League Uses Global Migration.” Chinese Political Science Review (2021): 1-16.


This article makes a simple argument: global immigration has provoked a crisis in some liberal democracies. The crisis is manifested along two dimensions. The first is the liberal dimension and the second the democratic component. The liberal dimension is conceptualized as a public good. Political parties, mostly but not exclusively on the right, have seized upon the immigration shock to undermine the public good principle—such as universal rights and equal treatment before the law—by shifting to the democratic people element of democracy. This shift redefines liberal democracy into a club good. This article shows how the League (formerly known as the Northern League) in Italy exploited the global immigration crisis to undermine liberal democracy by attacking the liberal democratic idea(l) of access to public goods offered by the welfare state to an exclusive club goods that should be only available to the “true” Italian citizen.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.