Return to: Search Page or to: Table of Contents Vol. 16, issue 4

Radoslaw Markowski and Joshua A. Tucker, "Euroscepticism and the Emergence of Political Parties in Poland," Party Politics, 16 (July, 2010), 523-548. [Available at http://ppq.sagepub.com/content/vol16/issue4/ ]

First paragraph:
On 7-8 June 2003, over 17 million Polish citizens turned out to vote in the country's historic referendum on whether or not to join the European Union (EU) the following year. Of the 58.85 percent of eligible Poles who participated in the referendum, 77.45 percent, or approximately 13.5 million citizens, voted for membership. One of the most interesting features of the referendum was the strong link between voting behaviour in the referendum and voting behaviour in the 2001 Polish parliamentary election. Simply put, voters who had supported one of the two Eurosceptic parties in the 2001 parliamentary election - which together captured almost one-fifth of the national vote - were much more likely to vote against EU membership in the 2003 referendum than voters who had supported pro-EU parties in 2001. Indeed, the effect of this one variable - vote choice in the 2001 parliamentary election - dwarfed the effect of all standard socio-demographic indicators in predicting the likelihood of voting for or against EU membership (Gazeta Wyborcza, 2003; Markowski and Tucker, 2005). For those who study public opinion towards EU membership in Western Europe, such findings might not be particularly surprising, as there is a history of citizens taking cues on their position towards EU membership from their preferred party (Anderson, 1998; Taggart, 1998). In post-communist countries, however, parties have long been presumed to be weak and less influential on the attitudes of their supporters, especially in Poland (Lewis, 2000; Markowski, 2002). Moreover, one of the Eurosceptic parties, the League of Polish Families (LPR), was created just months before the 2001 parliamentary elections, while the other, Self-Defence of the Republic of Poland (SRP), had received on average no more than 1 percent of the vote in previous national elections.

Figures and Tables:
Table 1. Attitudes towards EU membership by non-voters, voters for Eurosceptic parties, and voters for other parties, 2001
Table 2. Eurosceptic positions on EU-related issues by vote choice
Table 3. Average left-right self-placement of Eurosceptics by 2001 vote choice
Figure 1. Polish attitudes toward the European Union: 1997-2005
Table 4. Euroscepticism by election year and vote choice
Table 5. Party identification intensity and level of Euroscepticism by groups of voters
Table 6. Determinant of attitudes towards the EU: regression coefficients
Appendix I. Supplementary Tables

Last Paragraph:
(first paragraph of conclusion) We began this article with a puzzle: why was there such a close link among voters who supported either the LPR or SRP in the 2001 parliamentary election and the subsequent decision to vote against Polish entry into the EU in the 2003 referendum on EU membership? We have effectively falsified the simplest answer to this question: it does not appear to be the case that the LPR and SRP simply attracted voters in 2001 that had no opinion on EU membership and then provided a cue regarding a second-order concern when necessary two years later. On the contrary, our analyses provide an example of how new parties can emerge when a large proportion of the electorate is unrepresented on an important policy dimension. We have also moved a bit beyond the Downsian model to examine the question of what happens next. Here, we see that the relationship between anti-EU sentiment and support for these parties continued through the 2005 election, albeit in a stronger form for the LPR than SRP.

Last updated July 2010