Political Party Contestation over Europe in Public Discourses: Emergent Euroscepticism?
This study examines party contestation over Europe in mediated public discourses across seven countries: Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, and non-EU Switzerland. It uses an original and new type of data on party claims-making, drawn from media sources, to test leading hypotheses from the literature (Mair, Kriesi, Hooghe/Marks) on party contestation over Europe, its relationship to the left/right cleavage, and the nature and emergence of Euroscepticism. Cross-nationally, we generally find pro-European party debates at the aggregate level that are moving in the Eurosceptic direction, with Britain the exception, whose debates are pitched more towards Euroscepticism but becoming more pro-European. Party-level findings show pro-Europeanist stances strongly advanced by centre-left and liberal parties, compared to the centre-right, and Euroscepticism is significantly mobilised by four right parties: the Swiss Schweizerische Volkspartei (SVP), British Conservative Party, Italian coalition il Polo della Libertà, and German Christlich-Soziale Union in Bayern (CSU). Hence like Kriesi, we witness Euroscepticism not only at the margins, but increasing and mobilised by the mainstream right. With regard to whether this transformation is a modified ‘left/right’ (Hooghe/Marks) or ‘new’ (Kriesi) cleavage our findings are mixed. In addition, we consider that TAN (traditional-authoritarian-nationalist) ‘new politics’ themes are important to this Euroscepticism, but see TAN critiques to be grounded in civic-political rather than cultural and/or xenophobic opposition to European integration.
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