Return to: Search Page or to: Table of Contents Vol. 8, issue 4

Nicholas Aylott,"Let's Discuss this Later: Party Responses to Euro-Division in Scandinavia," Party Politics, 8 (July, 2002), 441-461.

First Paragraph:
The Scandinavian countries have often been characterized as 'reluctant Europeans' (Miljan, 1977). They all declined to participate in the European Communities in the 1950s. When, in the early 1970s, they faced the issue again, Sweden demurred, Denmark joined after a hard-fought referendum and the Norwegian government, having agreed its terms of membership, had them rejected by its electorate in a still more closely contested referendum. Events in the 1990s have cemented the Scandinavian reputation. The Danes nearly derailed the Treaty on European Union when they initially voted in 1992 against ratifying it. In more close referendums in 1994, Swedes voted to join what was by then the European Union, but Norwegians repeated their No to membership. Denmark and Sweden stood aside when 11 EU members adopted a single currency at the beginning of 1999. Denmark's vote in September 2000 on late entry to the system resulted in yet another No.

Figures and Tables:
Figure 1. Average party performances in European and national elections.
Figure 2. Scandinavian parties' level of internal division on European integration (expert opinion, average, 1992-6).
Table 1. Scandinavian referendums on European integration

Last Paragraph:
Finally, compartmentalization may also have consequences within individual parties. Party discipline has a purpose, namely, maximizing the ability to present a coherent face to the electorate, and thus to garner votes and, potentially, office. Relaxing discipline on one issue might not, in itself, damage that coherent face too badly. But, in the longer term, will it be possible to legitimize dissidence in one compartment, but not in others? In other words, it may be that the norms of intra-party behaviour established in the European compartment will leak into other compartments, making parties in general harder to lead. Indeed, they may already have done so.