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Can money buy EU love?


  • Fidrmuc, Jan
  • Hulényi, Martin
  • Tunalı, Çiğdem Börke


We explore the role played by Cohesion Policy in the Brexit referendum and the subsequent 2017 general election. Although the UK has been a net contributor to the EU, some regions receive significant amounts of regional aid funds. We find that while Cohesion Policy is positively correlated with the remain vote, this relationship is weak. Most of the variation in the remain vote is explained by economic factors. In contrast, there is a robust negative correlation between Cohesion Policy and voter turnout. We estimate that had there not been this negative relationship, some 2 million more voters would have participated in the referendum, which is more than the winning margin between the remain and leave votes. Our analysis of the 2017 election suggests that Conservatives lost and Labour gained votes in the regions that benefited from Cohesion Policy, while remain-supporting regions showed gains for the Liberal Democrats.

Suggested Citation

  • Fidrmuc, Jan & Hulényi, Martin & Tunalı, Çiğdem Börke, 2019. "Can money buy EU love?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 60(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:poleco:v:60:y:2019:i:c:s0176268018304555
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ejpoleco.2019.07.002

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    More about this item


    European integration; Economic voting; Cohesion Policy; Brexit;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • F02 - International Economics - - General - - - International Economic Order and Integration
    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration


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