Special Issue – EU Effects on Behaviour

Marina Costa Lobo, Michael Lewis-Beck - The European Union and political behaviour: The shadow of the Great Recession

The European Union and political behaviour: The shadow of the Great Recession

The symposium aims to analyse the politicisation of the European issue following the onset of the Eurozone crisis, in particular its impact on individual attitudes and voting both at the national and supranational level. By way of an introduction, we address the state of the art on the importance of the Eurozone crisis for EU politicisation, as well as outlining each article and its contribution. While our authors may sometimes focus on different dependent variables, they all speak to the question of whether the Great Recession made a lasting difference, and whether EU politicisation matters. Most articles are longitudinal, and test for changes due to the crisis (Dassonneville, Lewis- Beck and Jabbour; Ruiz-Rufino; Talving and Vasilopolou; Jurado and Navarrete). But preoccupation with the Great Recession is also present in the articles assessing the political learning that unfolded from it (Ruiz-Rufino), or the ones which investigate whether EU effects can be detected during the post-crisis years (Talving and Vasilopolou; Lobo and Pannico; Heyne and Lobo). Despite the diversity of approaches, and certain differences in findings, each article contributes to a major debate ongoing in the literature, especially three key debates which have arisen: the crisis’ impact on European party systems, economic voting, and the degree of legitimacy of democratic systems.

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Lea Heyne, Marina Costa Lobo - Technocratic attitudes and voting behaviour ten years after the Eurozone crisis: Evidence from the 2019 EP elections

Technocratic attitudes and voting behaviour ten years after the Eurozone crisis: Evidence from the 2019 EP elections

The onset of the Great Recession raised the profile of technocracy, or government by experts, as a contrasting model to democracy. Yet, there is little research on how attitudes towards technocracy may impact European citizens' political behaviour. Moreover, the consistency of technocracy supporters' political attitudes, especially towards the EU, is questionable. This paper uses new survey panel data collected before and after the European parliament elections in May 2019 in six countries (Belgium, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain). We investigate how citizens’ technocratic attitudes affect their voting behaviour in the European elections. We find evidence that citizens with technocratic attitudes are less likely to support mainstream parties, and tend to either abstain or, if they vote, to give their vote to anti-system parties, especially from the populist right. In addition, by distinguishing technocracy supporters according to their partisanship, we conclude that technocracy is a thin ideology that can be combined with different patterns of political support: while many technocracy supporters have no party identification or support non-mainstream parties and show dissatisfaction with democracy and the EU, another subgroup of technocracy supporters identifies with a mainstream political party and show above average political support and support for the EU.

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Marina Costa Lobo, Roberto Pannico - Do perceptions of EMU alter clarity of responsibility? A comparison of German and Greek electorates

Do perceptions of EMU alter clarity of responsibility? A comparison of German and Greek electorates

The goal of this paper is to understand whether perceptions of supranationalisation of economic policy mitigate economic voting in the Eurozone. We focus on two countries with divergent performances in the Eurozone: Germany and Greece, and make use of a novel dataset, which contains all necessary items to test this hypothesis. Our comprehensive vote model shows that in both countries economic voting occurs. However, once we interact perceptions of EU responsibility with perceptions of economic performance, we obtain diverging results: in Germany, the weight of economic perceptions on vote increases when citizens assign a higher responsibility to the EU for the country's economic situation. This is the opposite of what the “blurring of responsibility” posits. On the contrary, Greek electors are in line with expectations of our main hypothesis. Moreover, in this country we also found support for the idea that only citizens with a high level of political sophistication are able to incorporate the distribution of responsibilities for the economic policy in their vote calculus. Our results suggest that the blurring of responsibility effect on the vote may not be systematic across the Eurozone.

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Rubén Ruiz-Rufino - Financial bailouts and the decline of establishment politics

Financial bailouts and the decline of establishment politics

This article identifies and tests a mechanism to explain how exposure to financial bailouts accounts for the electoral decline of establishment parties. Given the limitation of economic voting theories to fully explain the electoral shifts observed in Europe from 2010 onwards, this research develops a different explanation. Citizens who were exposed to the macroeconomic conditions of financial bailouts not only observed the consequences of drastic fiscal adjustment packages but, possibly, also underwent a process of political learning. By putting economic responsibility before policy responsiveness, establishment parties showed citizens that voting for these parties did not necessarily implied policy change. This political learning led some citizens not to vote for these parties in subsequent elections. These theoretical claims are tested using individual data from the sixth round of the European Social Survey as well as data from European and parliamentary elections observed between 1991 and 2019 in eleven countries of the Eurozone.

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Liisa Talving, Sofia Vasilopoulou -Linking two levels of governance: Citizens’ trust in domestic and European institutions over time

Linking two levels of governance: Citizens’ trust in domestic and European institutions over time

This article puts forward a comprehensive framework for explaining the complex and dynamic relationship between trust in the domestic government and trust in the EU, considering time, country and individual-level variation. Using longitudinal comparative data from 32 Eurobarometer survey waves (2004–2018), we first establish that the link between attitude formation at the national and the EU supranational levels is present over time. Second, we show that during ‘extraordinary’ times of crisis the strength of that relationship intensifies. Third, we posit that the European sovereign debt crisis changed the mechanism for this relationship in two ways: during ‘extraordinary’ times, the link is much stronger in countries hardest hit by the crisis, and the relationship holds independent of individuals' political sophistication across all countries. Our findings have implications for understanding the drivers of EU support and theories of institutional trust.

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Ruth Dassonneville, Alexandra Jabbour, Michael S. Lewis-Beck -More ‘Europe’, less Democracy? European integration does not erode satisfaction with democracy

More ‘Europe’, less Democracy? European integration does not erode satisfaction with democracy

The process of European integration, through institutions such as the European Union, the Eurozone, or Schengen, implies a shift in political decision-making away from the national governments and towards international institutions. This gradual shift in the balance of power, furthermore, is increasingly debated by citizens. As a result, European integration might lead to an erosion of satisfaction with democracy in European countries. By means of a longitudinal analysis of the determinants of satisfaction with democracy in European countries, we test this expectation. We find no indication that the shift in the balance of power, and the trend towards more European integration indeed have eroded satisfaction with the functioning of (national) democracy.

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