Catherine E. De Vries and
Erica E. Edwards, "Taking Europe to Its Extremes: Extremist
Parties and Public Euroscepticism," Party Politics,
15 (January, 2009). 5-28.
Over the past decade, the process of European integration
has witnessed a dual trend: a downward spiral in public
support for the integration project and a concomitant
increase in opportunities for the public to express these
concerns. We need only look at the recent popular rejections
of the Constitutional Treaty in France and The Netherlands
to see the powerful role that public opinion can play in
constraining the integration process. Moreover, most
European Union (EU) member states - and especially the six
founding members - have recently witnessed a significant
drop in public support for European unification (De Vries
and Van Kersbergen, 2007). Eichenberg and Dalton (2007)
refer to this decline in popular support as the
'Post-Maastricht Blues', since the downturn occurred after
the finalizing of the Maastricht Treaty in December 1991.
All in all, the 'permissive consensus' characterizing EU
politics in the 1970s and 1980s seems to have given way to
what some scholars suggest is a 'constraining dissensus'
(Hooghe and Marks, forthcoming 2009).
- Figures and
- Table 1. Eurosceptic right-wing parties
- Table 2. Eurosceptic left-wing parties
- Table 3. Variable description
- Table 4. ANOVA
- Table 5. Determinants of Euroscepticism (multi-level
- Figure 1. Cueing effect of right-wing Eurosceptic
parties on national identity
- Figure 2. Cueing effect of left-wing Eurosceptic
parties on economic anxiety
- Appendix: Model Specification
In stressing the role of national political contexts in
influencing public opinion towards European integration, our
article offers an important contribution to the literature.
Thus far, the EU support discussion has been dominated by
two perspectives: the utilitarian approach emphasizes that
citizens are more likely to support the EU if it results in
a net benefit to their bank accounts, while the national
identity approach argues that national identity is decisive
in shaping citizens' opinions towards European integration.
We have incorporated both of these viewpoints, but have
highlighted the way in which political contexts influence
these explanations, focusing particularly on the role of
national political parties. Our analysis has demonstrated
that partisan cueing is essential in our understanding of
the conditions under which utilitarian and national identity
considerations are mobilized against European integration.
Moreover, this article takes an important step towards
understanding the nature of this partisan cueing.