Reasserting the Nation State: The Trajectory of Euroscepticism in the Netherlands 1992-2005
Scholarly debate on party-based Euroscepticism centers on the questions of how to define, measure and explain Euroscepticism. As a starting point, this paper observes that studies on Euroscepticism either focus on the positions of individual parties on issues of European integration or on the character of public discourse in different member states. Studies on party positions excel in emphasizing the agency political parties provide for Euroscepticism and the extent of domestic contestation, whereas studies of public discourse are more apt to uncover the meaning of Euroscepticism and its dynamics as parties interact in the public sphere. Both strands are predominantly focused on European integration in general or constitutional issues specifically. The present study incorporates the qualities of both strands, using the method of claims-making analysis. It furthermore aims to enrich our understanding of party-based Euroscepticism by studying a non-constitutional issue: debates on the EU budget in the Netherlands between 1992 and 2005. A mixed methodology research design provides both quantitative and qualitative data in a longitudinal comparative case study, leading to a conceptualization of how the permissive consensus in the Netherlands changed towards Euroscepticism through a process of politicization in which the issue was internalized, followed by calls for renationalization. Substantially, this study shows how the budget and its costs featured prominently in Dutch party politics and how the importance of this issue fed and featured Euroscepticism.
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