Provincial Interests and Political Integration: Voting in the French Maastricht Referendum
In September 1992 French voters in a national referendum approved the Maastrict Treaty, which instituted several provisions for closer European integration including creation of the Eurozone. This paper analyzes political and economic forces that affected French voters, and the links between the progress of European integration and changes in redistributive spending. Conventional wisdom ascribes the persistence of the Common Agricultural Program subsidies to the political power of farmers, although direct evidence of this has been sparse. The statistical analysis here finds that support for European integration is weaker, other things equal, in areas where farmers were most affected by the MacSharry reforms, which reduced some support prices and began the process of `decoupling' agricultural subsidies from production. Results also show previous support for European integration and pro-European politicians are correlated with stronger support for ratification, as are higher incomes and higher proportions of non-natives. The results are consistent with the view that European integration provides voters and taxpayers with a way to limit the influence of interest groups by shifting decisionmaking from a national to a supranational arena.
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