Party competition over EU integration: Asymmetrical impacts of external shocks across regions?

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Abstract

Using Voting Advice Application (VAA) data from the EU Profiler/euandi Trend File, we studied how parties' positions towards European integration relate to their positions on other important issues, and how this varies across EP elections, and between European regions. We hypothesized that the association between parties' EU-integration positions and their positions on other issues was affected by the three major crises that hit the European Union (EU) between 2009 and 2019: the economic, migration, and climate crises. Additionally, we hypothesized that the economic and migration crises asymmetrically affected the association between cultural and economic issues on the one hand and the EU dimension on the other across the EU's three macro regions (NWE, SE, and CEE). Our results show that neither the economic crisis nor the migration crisis or the climate crisis had an EU-wide impact on how European integration relates to other issue dimensions. As we hypothesized, economic issues were particularly strongly linked to EU-integration positions in SE in 2014, but our results additionally indicated that the longstanding interpretation of EU integration as a mainly economic issue in SE diminished after the start of the migration crisis. Finally, EU integration became related to immigration issues in CEE while this is not the case in the other regions. The main takeaway is that EU integration is interpreted differently by parties across the EU, which is important to recognize for parties that seek to work together in transnational party groups, and for scholars that aim to understand EU policy making.

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Huijsmans, T., & Krouwel, A. (2021). Party competition over EU integration: Asymmetrical impacts of external shocks across regions? European Political Science Review, 13(4), 547–564. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1755773921000242

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