• immigration;
  • intergroup contact;
  • perceived threat;
  • ideological climate;
  • multilevel;
  • Switzerland

Public opposition to antiracism laws—an expression of prejudice toward immigrants—is widespread in Switzerland as well as in other European countries. Using data from the European Social Survey 2002 (N = 1,711), the present study examined across Swiss municipalities individual and contextual predictors of opposition to such laws and of two well-established antecedents of prejudice: perceived threat and intergroup contact. The study extends multilevel research on immigration attitudes by investigating the role of the ideological climate prevailing in municipalities (conservative vs. progressive), in addition to structural features of municipalities. Controlling for individual-level determinants, stronger opposition to antiracism laws was found in more conservative municipalities, while the proportion of immigrants was positively related to intergroup contact. Furthermore, in conservative municipalities with a low proportion of immigrants, fewer intergroup contacts were reported. In line with prior research, intergroup contact decreased prejudiced policy stances through a reduction of perceived threat. Overall, this study highlights the need to include normative and ideological features of local contexts in the analysis of public reactions toward immigrants.