Political and Econometric Analysis of Party Systems Transformation in the EU


E. Gromoglasova, Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation (e_gromoglasova@imemo.ru).
A. Libman, Deutsches Institut für Internationale Politik und Sicherheit, Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (German Institute for International and Security Affairs – SWP), 3-4, Ludwigkirchplatz, Berlin, 10719, Deutschland (alibman@yandex.com).


The paper attempts to study how economic situation in the member countries of the European Union in 2005-2011 affected the national party systems' attitude towards the EU and the European integration (the EU cleavage). The authors made suggestion that economic decline could result in growing Euroskepticism. This hypothesis was derived from three main arguments: economic voting theory, suggesting that voters “punish” the ruling parties in case of economic decline; the role the EU plays in determining national economic policy (specifically, strict austerity requirements); the overall international context of global economic crisis. In order to measure the attitude of the national parties towards the EU, the data from the Manifesto Project Database (MPD), a large scale content analysis database of electoral promises (manifestos) of national political parties was applied. Then the authors looked at 41 elections in the EU member states in 2005-2011, for which MPD data are available, and measured the declared position of the parties participating in the elections regarding the EU. In an econometric study, the proxies of national party systems attitudes were regressed on proxies of economic situation in the EU countries, attempting to test the main hypotheses. Specifically, four proxies of attitude towards the EU were used: the share of votes obtained by euroskeptical parties; the average level of Euroskepticism in national party manifestos of all parties participating in elections; the average level of Euroskepticism of the ruling coalition emerging from elections; the average level of Euroskepticism weighted by the share of votes obtained by particular parties. The results of the estimates do not confirm that economic indicators (especially GDP and inflation) have had a significant impact on the Euroskepticism; the results are not robust and vary from specification to specification. The article shows, however, that higher unemployment levels are negatively correlated with Euroskepticism. The authors explain these findings by the predominance of expressive behavior in voting patterns in Europe. Specifically, they argue that voting was driven primarily by identity issue. However, in this case identity should be related not to ethnic or regional features, but to consumption behavior patterns. The results are also placed in a broader context, attempting to link the EU-specific findings to processes observed in other parts of the world.


political parties, economic voting, political protest, identity, expressive behavior, Euroskepticism, EU

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For citation:
Gromoglasova E., Libman A. Political and Econometric Analysis of Party Systems Transformation in the EU. Mirovaya ekonomika i mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya, 2015, No 4, pp. 5-17

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