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The Reshaping of Political Conflict over Europe: From Pre-Maastricht to Post-'Euro Crisis'

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Sebastian Popa



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Taylor & Francis, 2021.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


Empirical research has depicted party competition over European integration to be structured by the two main dimensions of political conflict: first, a socio-economic conflict between proponents of market liberalisation and supporters of a more regulated economy; second, a socio-cultural conflict between the advocates of libertarian, cosmopolitan values and the inheritors of authoritarian, nationalist values. In this paper, we investigate these relationships across time and space by focussing on specific ‘critical junctures’ of the European integration process. For this purpose, we analyse elections manifestos of parties competing in European Parliament elections (Euromanifestos) from 1979 to 2014. We find, first, that the watershed moment of the Maastricht treaty has significantly altered party competition over Europe. Party positions towards European integration in Western Europe have become less connected to the economic dimension, but much more related to the cultural dimension of political conflict. Second, we contend that the transformational moment of the Euro crisis has not led to divergent pathways of party competition over European integration. Although the crisis yielded a comeback of economic determinants in Southern Europe and accelerated a general ‘cultural backlash’ in Western Europe, we find that political conflict over European integration has not restructured dramatically. These empirical results bear important implications for our understanding of roughly 40 years of party competition over Europe.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Schäfer C, Popa SA, Braun D, Schmitt H

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: West European Politics

Year: 2021

Volume: 44

Issue: 3

Pages: 531-557

Online publication date: 27/01/2020

Acceptance date: 12/11/2019

Date deposited: 02/12/2019

ISSN (print): 0140-2382

ISSN (electronic): 1743-9655

Publisher: Taylor & Francis


DOI: 10.1080/01402382.2019.1709754


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