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Agnes Batory, "Attitudes to Europe: Ideology, Strategy and the Issue of European Union Membership in Hungarian Party Politics," Party Politics, 8 (September 2002," 525-539.

First Paragraph:
The significance of the European Union's (EU) decision to take in a large number of post-communist countries can hardly be overstated, either for the EU or the former East bloc countries themselves. Membership of the EU as an objective is strongly supported by political elites in the applicant countries. This broad agreement can be contrasted not only with the pre-accession debates that divided the political classes in the latest EU member states, but also with 'politics as usual' in post-communist democracies where inter-party relations are often more conflicting than those in Western Europe. However, moving beyond a clear-cut choice between supporting or rejecting membership per se, analyses of the party politics of EU accession in East Central Europe (ECE) can reveal a background that is not entirely unlike the Western European cases explored in the literature. In the present case study I investigate this subject by looking at the way the issue of EU membership and European integration is channelled into party politics in one of the leading ECE candidate countries, namely Hungary. In addition to the empirical findings on this relatively little known case,1 Hungarian politics also serves to illustrate a more general argument about the importance of ideological, as opposed to purely strategic, factors in explaining partisan responses to Europe.

Figures and Tables:
Table 1. Distribution of seats in Parliament
Figure 1. Parliamentary parties' location in the ideological space, 1998

Last Paragraph:
Ideology nevertheless seems to have an independent impact on how the issue of EU membership is framed. Parties, such as the SZDSZ in Hungary, the ideological profile of which is compatible with (or, indeed, reinforced by) both economic and political integration may approach EU membership in more value-laden terms, although not necessarily exclusively so. In contrast, parties with ideologies that may conflict with the foundations of the European project, such as the Smallholder Party, can successfully avoid the sensitive, potentially divisive questions that arise from a country's membership bid by approaching the issue from a purely economic perspective. Emphasizing direct gains to be secured in the accession negotiations reduces the complex issue to a manageable material cost-benefit analysis, which can easily be interpreted, and changed, as the strategic context may require. Long-term influences arising from party ideology and historical development thus need to be understood in conjunction with short-term incentives arising from coalition-building and electoral competition. Perhaps the main conclusion to be drawn from the Hungarian case is that broad party political support for joining the EU by no means implies that the issue of integration is depoliticized. On the contrary, parties in this country, like their counterparts already in the EU, use the set of issues surrounding European integration for partisan advantage.