Comparative European Politics

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Change in trade balances in Germany (million €).
Source: Eurostat
GDP per institutional sector in Germany (change per period; billion €; constant prices).
Source: OECD
Net and gross financial transactions of households in the Netherlands (million €). Source: OECD
GDP per institutional sector in the Netherlands (change per period; billion €; constant prices).
Source: OECD
Article
Growth model theory has turned the focus of comparative political economy scholars on the demand drivers of economic growth. But while its proponents emphasize the variety and inherent instability of growth models, research so far has been more concerned with the emergence and coherence of stable growth models than in the process of change. We argue that growth model change can be understood as a process of financial rebalancing on the level of institutional sectors. When an overindebted sector is forced to deleverage, a politically contested process emerges over the path of adjustment. We derive various ways in which each sector can contribute to this process of financial adjustment, which we conceptualize as the activation of macroeconomic ‘compensation valves’. This process shapes the trajectory of economic performance during financial crisis and determines whether a new feasible growth model can emerge in its aftermath. We apply our analytical lens in a comparative case study of Germany and the Netherlands during the Great Recession. We conclude that future research on growth models should more explicitly problematize the ability of political economies to adapt to financial instability.
 
Article
This article analyses Brexit’s promise of restoring UK sovereignty and retrieving regulatory autonomy from the EU from the perspective of the UK Parliament. It argues that while the prospects of post-Brexit regulatory alignment remain high, they are to some extent counterbalanced by those of targeted divergence. A twofold argument is put forward to demonstrate this. The first argument builds on the literature on the Brussels effect and argues that the strength of economic interdependence between the UK and the EU and the size and influence of the latter’s market generate significant pressures for UK regulatory alignment with EU standards. This is demonstrated through a qualitative empirical examination of the contents of UK parliamentary scrutiny of the projected impact of Brexit on the key UK export industry sectors: automotive, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and financial services. It is shown that select committees in both Houses of Parliament, including the Eurosceptic ones, have consistently advocated close alignment with EU regulatory standards across the export-intensive economic sectors. As such, these findings relativise the prospects of taking back control to the extent that the substance of Westminster’s post-Brexit legislative activity may continue to be significantly influenced by EU regulation and policy. This is reinforced by the sanctioning mechanism foreseen in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement and the economic benefits of adhering to the EU’s adequacy and equivalence regimes. These factors therefore facilitate the future Europeanisation of UK law after Brexit. The second argument nuances the first argument by showing that UK legislative and regulatory divergence is not an abstract possibility, but rather a political reality grounded in strong government majority following the 2019 election, the scrutiny approaches that favour assessment of regulatory impacts, and the UK’s willingness to take unilateral action.
 
Respondent perceptions on the valued and most valued aspects of the EPP Group Erasmus Programme
Respondent motivations to participate in the EPP Group Erasmus Programme
Self-reported respondent knowledge about the EU, the EPP and the EPP Group
Respondent contact frequencies with MEPs from their own party
Respondent contact frequencies with EPP MEPs from other member states
Article
This article, for the first time, analyses vertical networking among parliamentary groups and elected politicians from the same Europarty in the EU. It explores how, concerned about its growing ideological diversity, political fragmentation and recent sovereigniste tendencies, the European People’s Party Group in the European Parliament has sought to exercise strategic leadership within the EU multilevel parliamentary field by systematizing its cooperation with younger national MPs. Drawing on a mixed-methods approach including document analysis, elite interviews, and a participant survey, the article traces the origins, motivations, and implementation since 2016 of the EPP Group’s unique Erasmus Programme for visits by such national MPs to Brussels. It shows that participation enhanced the MPs’ knowledge about the EPP Group, the EP, and the EU. It also created new contacts between them and the EPP Group and other EP actors, and it contributed somewhat to legitimising the EPP Group’s role for national politics. It remains to be seen, however, whether increased vertical parliamentary networking will be both sustainable, not ephemeral, and transnational, not national—long-term effects that could only be traced with the help of a longitudinal research design.
 
a, b. The regional share of SE workers within (a) the total share of SE workers and (b) the respective national average of SE workers. NUTS-II level, Greece, Spain, Italy, and Cyprus.
Source: Compiled by the authors based on relevant national registries
Bivariate map, regional shares (%) of SE enterprises and shares (%) of SE employees. NUTS-II level, Greece, Spain, Italy, and Cyprus.
Source: Compiled by the authors based on relevant national registries and Eurostat
Article
Social Economy (SE) has been praised for contributing to a humane and sustainable economic growth, whilst effectively tackling the detrimental effects of economic, ecological , and other types of crises. With many of its member states experiencing a heap of such problems, the EU has actively facilitated the setting up and operation of social enterprises. The paper at hand offers a theoretically-grounded empirical analysis of SE in four South EU countries (Spain, Italy, Greece, and Cyprus), and specifically, it examines the pertinent policies and their post-implementation impact. To do so, it employs a mixed-methods approach comprising a critical scrutiny of national policy frameworks, a quantitative analysis of secondary regional data on SE workforce and enterprises, and an interview-based fieldwork focused on SE stakeholders and experts. Highlighting the crucial differences among national policy frameworks lays the groundwork for deciphering the uneven dynamics in SE development across the study regions. Our analysis underlines that, albeit SE is often presented as a viable alternative to neoliberalism, it is bound by the latter's intrinsic characteristics. Specifically, not only SE fails to limit (youth) unemployment and inactivity drastically, but on the contrary, it often becomes a fertile ground for labor practices that are exceedingly precarious.
 
Article
Who represents labor market outsiders in the age of dualization? This article provides a government partisanship explanation for the cross-national variation in the political representation of outsiders. Specifically, this article argues that countries with a strong central party are more likely to enact pro-outsider policies such as job creation programs, generous unemployment benefits, and employment protection for outsiders. To substantiate this claim, this article chooses The Netherlands, Ireland, and Sweden as three exemplar cases in the central party strength. This article demonstrates that these countries vary in their policy responses to outsiders in the manner we expected from government partisanship-based explanation. It is also noteworthy that the empirical results based on ten welfare states from 1980 to 2007 strengthen my argument.
 
Predicted probabilities of having influence for each stakeholder type based on model 1. (bu business interests, cg citizen group (air sport), cg-dif citizen group (diffuse), ra regulatory agency, lu labour union, pa professional association, ot other)
Article
EU agencies have become important regulatory venues. Initially established to provide expert advice, many have gained far-reaching decision-making and enforcement powers. This has attracted considerable attention from stakeholders, but the extent of their influence on EU agency conduct has remained a black box. We employ a novel dataset of 203 consultations (2007–2017) containing 26,468 attempts of stakeholders to change proposed regulatory rules by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, as well as the agency’s response. This dataset allows for an original approach to measuring influence by linking influence attempts to rule changes. We found that business interests are far more influential than diffuse public interests. This has important implications for the legitimacy of EU agency stakeholder policies, as they are meant to make EU agencies more broadly accessible. National regulators are also influential in EU agency consultations, pointing to the unacknowledged importance of stakeholder consultations for EU-national regulator interactions.
 
Preferences, knowledge, cues and values by vote intention
Note: For the plot, we use dichotomous variables to plot the share of respondents among supporters and opponents that have a preference for the Bilateral Treaties over immigration restrictions, that prefer closure over openness, who have accurate policy knowledge and who receive a party cue in support of the IMI. Sample sizes (Bilateral preference N=803; Closure value N=834; Policy knowledge N=543; Supportive party cue N= 877). (Color figure online)
Average marginal effects on IMI-support
Note: plot displays the average marginal effects with 95% confidence intervals for the independent variables on IMI support. Estimates based on a logistic regression model with standardized independent variables (for detailed model output see Model 1 in Table A-2 in the supplementary materials)
Rationalization strategies
Note: the plots represent the share of IMI-supporters that agree (in blue) or disagree (in red) with a statement of rationalizing the implementation failure. The plots separate cross-pressured supporters (prefer Bilateral Treaties) and non-cross-pressured supporters (prefer IMI). (Color figure online)
IMI-supporters by trade-off preferences
Note: blue stands for preferring immigration restrictions and red stands for preferring the Bilateral Treaties. Based on variable “Trade-off preference” (see Table A1 in the supplementary materials for the detailed wording). Number of observations: N = 420 in 2015 and N = 378 in 2017. (Color figure online)
Vote preference determinants before and after the implementation failure
Note: Coefficient plot based on a logistic regression (see Table A-3 in the supplementary materials for the full model output), model coefficients shown with 95% confidence intervals
Article
In times of contested globalization, democratic governments have increasing difficulties to reconcile international obligations with domestic political demands. Unresponsiveness to domestic constituents due to international constraints may threaten to undermine democratic legitimacy. We assess how citizens react to non-responsive governments in the case of a high-stake direct-democratic vote in Switzerland. The 2014 referendum on restricting immigration from the European Union failed in its implementation because of the EU's refusal to negotiate the free movement rights of its citizens. How did Swiss citizens adapt their policy preferences to this implementation failure? Drawing on original survey data, we show that citizens overwhelmingly did not adapt their policy preferences; rather, they rationalized the implementation failure in an effort to protect their ideological and partisan orientations. The results suggests that governments face major challenges to convey constrained policy choices to their citizens.
 
Article
Contrary to the idea that ‘Brexit means Brexit’, the article demonstrates that, in spite of leaving the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice, the UK is not automatically seeking to distance itself from the EU’s activities and approaches to these policy fields. Using the concepts of disengagement, continued engagement and re-engagement and drawing from historical institutionalism, the article further clarifies that present and future trajectories of UK positions in respect of the EU action are conditioned by a path dependence created by the evolution of UK opt-ins and opt-outs in this field, by the politicisation of the Brexit negotiations in the context of the UK–EU relations and by domestic UK politics. We explore this argument across three policy areas: (1) police and judicial cooperation, (2) immigration, borders and asylum, and (3) cybersecurity.
 
Heatmap of Adjacent and Peripheral Left–Right Issues in Sweden (1944–2018) Overall, the coordinates range from −4.72 to 2.98 with a mean of −0.13 and an overall standard deviation of 0.98. Within countries, the standard deviation ranges from 0.13 to 1.62
Heatmap of Adjacent and Peripheral Left–Right Issues in the Czech Republic (1990–2017)
Heatmap of Adjacent and Peripheral Left–Right Issues in the USA (1944–2020)
Heatmap of Adjacent and Peripheral Left–Right Issues in Poland (1991–2019)
Heatmap of Adjacent and Peripheral Left–Right Issues in the UK (1945–2019)
Article
The extent to which the left–right dimension still structures party systems in highly developed, industrialized democracies is a contested field in comparative politics. Most studies in this area take the position that a stable and universal left–right dimension is either still the most important game in town or has become obsolete and replaced by other policy dimensions. Although country-specific studies focusing on voters’ left–right self-placement discover different meanings of left and right that vary between countries and change over time, few macro-comparative studies focusing on parties or governments take this aspect into account. Using a left–right concept for party politics from the PIP project on Parties, Institutions and Preferences that distinguishes an ideological core derived from political theory, as well as country- and time-specific issues uncovered through empirical analysis, the article demonstrates fundamental differences in the relevance and meaning of left and right by analyzing 34 party systems from 1945 to 2020. The article shows that the thesis of the decline of the left and right is premature. An important aspect for the continued high relevance of the left–right dimension is the fact that left and right changes their meaning by including controversial issues such as European integration, migration and environmental degradation.
 
Causal mechanism
Preparation of tests for the process-tracing exercise
Article
The IMF’s 2010 Troika lending programme with Greece was unprecedented due to the IMF’s controversial internal rule changes, the programme’s pivotal effects on eurozone crisis policies and the effect of austerity concepts on Greece. We aim to explain conclusively why the IMF lent to Greece without restructuring, as previous explanations have crucial gaps. We operationalise Ben Clift’s theory of IMF behaviour in process-tracing, analysing programme-related text sources. Our exercise is novel as Clift does not aim to explain individual programmes, while the theory warrants further testing. According to our causal mechanism, the IMF used two key analytical lenses formed via bricolage, fiscal space and nonlinear multiple equilibria processes (NLMEP), to analyse the programme context and formulate the programme design. While we find our mechanism too narrow to explain the programme design, our results regarding the role of NLMEP and fiscal space within IMF programme-time economic analysis support the importance of financial contagion as a motivator for monetarily significant IMF participation and why the IMF adhered to austerity despite risking debt stabilisation. However, it seems limitedly useful to assume coherent ideational drivers behind the precise programme design: instead, accepting the key role of ad hoc judgement depicts IMF behaviour accurately.
 
Article
Deep constitutional, political and social conflicts have marked the aftermath of the UK’s vote to leave the European Union. Sovereignty has been one of the sites of these conflicts. British Euroscepticism has traditionally mobilized national sovereignty against the EU’s supranational institutions. Since the referendum, the focus has shifted to the meanings and practices of sovereignty within the UK. In this paper, we find that the conflicts of sovereignty provoked by Brexit have primarily been at the institutional level, in the relations between the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. Surprisingly, there has been little conflict around the abstract normative ideal of sovereignty as government by consent of the governed (“popular sovereignty”). Brexit was a source of conflict as much because of the content of the decision to leave the EU as it was due to disagreement about who rules. This discussion of the British case is a useful starting point for the comparative study of sovereignty conflicts in Europe, where institutional conflicts may be accompanied by substantive disagreements about “who rules?” This paper recommends that we carefully delineate conflicts of sovereignty from other sorts of conflicts connected to specific policy choices or outcomes.
 
Article
Contemporary conflicts of sovereignty in Europe have gone beyond the clash between national and supranational sovereignty. Sovereignty conflicts are increasingly occurring within member states. This paper develops a conceptual framework that distinguishes between foundational, institutional and territorial conflicts of sovereignty, elaborating on this taxonomy with reference to the historical evolution of the concept of sovereignty in Europe. It provides an account of why we have seen a proliferation in conflicts of sovereignty within European states. This is due in part to the notion of “shared” sovereignty. Central to European integration, this notion has introduced considerable institutional indeterminacy into the political systems of member states, leading to many of the institutional conflicts of sovereignty we see in Europe today. The struggle of national party systems to institutionalize societal conflict via partisan competition is another contributory factor. This has displaced conflict onto the terrain of how popular rule is institutionalized within the national state. In developing this framework, the paper provides a method for distinguishing between political conflicts tout court and those touching specifically upon sovereignty. Moreover, the framework helps us distinguish between those conflicts of sovereignty most destabilizing for a polity and those which are less so.
 
Majorities supporting parliamentary acts related to the “independence process”.
Source Author’s own figures
Article
In the conflict over the secession of Catalonia, the institutions dominated by supporters of Catalan independence, most specifically the Catalan Parliament, constructed a narrative that presented the quest for independence as a conflict of sovereignty opposing the Spanish state and its central authorities against the democratic principles embodied by Catalan Parliament. This narrative side-lined the linkage between democracy and rule of law so central to liberal democracies. In doing so, it generated a new conflict at the practical and narrative level; namely, one between democracy understood as extreme majoritarianism, and the rule of law understood as legality. This article traces and explores the formation of this narrative and draws out in detail the normative implications associated with a conflict between majoritarianism and legality.
 
Libertarianism, Sovereigntism and their Hollow Core
Article
This paper argues that the current COVID-19 pandemic reveals and in a sense crystallizes a series of long-standing tensions about sovereignty that have become increasingly salient in the advanced capitalist democracies of the European Union. The spread of the pandemic led first to the activation of a conflict between a ‘sovereigntist reflex’ privileging the expression of national capacities and national self-reliance and a more ‘perforated’ understanding of sovereignty stressing the interdependence of peoples and states, both geographically and institutionally. As the response to COVID itself became more politicized we see the emergence of a second tension, between a libertarian ‘reflex’ supporting a residual state protecting liberties and facilitating individual choice and a sovereign-statist ‘instinct’, calling for an empowered guardian of the public good capable of ensuring collective security. A third tension relates to the seemingly growing opposition between a conception of sovereignty founded (and contingent) upon the will of the people and one in which the sovereign is, simultaneously, the discerner, defender and ultimate guarantor of the public good. After having mapped out these interwoven tensions and their main fault lines in general terms, the paper proceeds comparatively, tracking and tracing their (differential and specific) presence in governmental responses in two advanced capitalist democracies, France and Britain.
 
Article
This article looks at the relationship between conflicts of sovereignty and patterns of national party competition, by focusing on the electoral support for two Italian populist radical right parties (PRRPs), the Lega (the League, Lega) and Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy, FdI). Using public opinion data, the study finds that the conflicts of sovereignty represent a distinct and multidimensional set of attitudes related to voting preferences. Overall, these conflicts seem to provide some electoral advantage to the PRRPs over other competing parties in the electoral arena. However, they do not provide the same amount of gains to all PRRPs, since ideologies and party identities are important intervening factors in the relationship between conflicts of sovereignty, party mobilisation, and voting behaviour.
 
Article
This paper investigates whether the politicization of a new generation of trade agreements has led to the transformation of EU trade policy. It provides a qualitative study of multilevel contention based on sources from civil society and the parliamentary archives in Belgium, Germany, and the European Union concerning the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and three subsequent agreements concluded by the EU with Japan, Vietnam, and Singapore. We argue that, far beyond mere institutional disputes, the contention surrounding CETA has epitomized two conflicting visions of sovereignty: on the one hand, a vision where national executives qua states share sovereignty under the auspices of the European Commission, and on the other hand, a claim to reassert popular sovereignty (and the channelling thereof by parliaments) in a multilevel fashion. We demonstrate that the strengthening of the latter vision has been limited as the empowerment of parliaments was not sustained when civil society’s mobilization waned. The EU institutions have successfully curtailed the category of mixed agreements thus limiting the involvement of national and regional parliaments. CETA was a climax in the politicization of trade yet failed to bring about a new constitutional settlement that enhances the popular component of sovereignty in the EU.
 
The use of sovereignty and sovereign in the Polish Sejm (2015–2019; 2019–2020)
Acts adopted by the Polish government (2016–2020): in favour, against, and abstentions
Article
Since the 2015 parliamentary elections in Poland, the government led by the Law and Justice party (PiS) has sought to win two interwoven battles: the restoration of ‘a strong state’ internally and ‘regaining sovereignty’ in the country’s relationship with the EU. By examining the 2015 constitutional crisis in Poland, this article seeks to understand how and why a domestic dispute over the nomination of constitutional judges has transformed into a conflict of sovereignty in the EU polity. The paper shows that the claims to sovereignty of political, social, and legal actors reflect opposing conceptions of this principle as well as of democracy and the rule of law. PiS’ understanding of State sovereignty is rooted in the past, echoes its Hobbesian conception, and is reminiscent of Carl Schmitt’s notion of the political and of democracy. In 2015, this conception was pitted against the supremacy of the Constitution (legal sovereignty) and the ideal of shared sovereignty. Drawing on 20 parliamentary debates, this paper shows that the 2015 Polish constitutional crisis encapsulates a conflict of sovereignty over who holds the most legitimate representation of the people and who should have the last word in key political conflicts and constitutional settlements.
 
Most important issues facing the EU: selected issues, 2010–2019.
Source: Standard Eurobarometer, Autumn waves. Note: The wording of the question is “What do you think are the two most important issues facing the EU at the moment?”
Number of EU documents mentioning “just transition”, 2007–2019.
Source: Publications Office of the EU and European Council, own representation
Article
The Just Transition Fund was introduced in 2021 as part of the European Union’s Green New Deal and aims to assuage some of the painful social consequences of the green transition. Relying on the Multiple Streams Framework, this article reconstructs the JTF’s institution. It identifies 2018–2019 as a key conjuncture in the European Union when various social, ideational and political preconditions enabling policy innovation converged. Subsequently, the need to publicly finance a just transition emerged in relation to some Eastern European states’ reluctance to work towards the 2050 climate neutrality target. After a Polish-led configuration of actors propelled the JTF onto the agenda, the von der Leyen Commission assumed the task of designing a less transparently self-serving policy instrument necessary to garner wider political support. The final JTF emerged from the interplay between two policy entrepreneurs in the context of the negotiations on the 2021–2027 European Union budget and the dislocations provoked by the COVID-19 crisis.
 
Article
Differentiated integration (DI) in the European Union (EU) has mainly been understood as variation in participation in common policies. But DI also has implications for the nature and functioning of the EU as a polity. While temporary DI may facilitate deeper integration, permanent DI is liable to increase transaction costs and fragmentation. However, little is known about how such alternatives are assessed by decision-makers in the member states. This article uses novel quantitative and qualitative data to shed light on this question. It looks at the explanatory role of various types of opt-outs and at member states’ dependence, capacity, and identity. We find that temporary and permanent differentiation are assessed differently in the member states but neither alternative is clearly preferred. Long-term involuntary opt-outs are related to negative assessments of both forms of DI. Surprisingly, voluntary opt-outs do not seem to lead to more positive assessments of DI. We also find that the temporary DI is preferred in smaller member states, while support for permanent DI is higher in larger member states. Finally, we find differences in the effects of dependency, capacity, and identity between older and newer member states.
 
‘When the UK leaves the EU, should there be a referendum in NI asking people whether they want NI to remain in the UK or to re-unify with the rest of Ireland?’ (Data from https://www.qub.ac.uk/sites/brexitni/BrexitandtheBorder/Report/Filetoupload%2C820734%2Cen.pdf Accessed May 2021.)
‘When the UK leaves the EU, if there was a referendum in NI asking people whether they want NI to remain in the United Kingdom or to re-unify with the rest of Ireland, how would you vote in that referendum? (% supporting each option)’ (Data from https://www.qub.ac.uk/sites/brexitni/BrexitandtheBorder/Report/Filetoupload%2C820734%2Cen.pdf Accessed May 2021.)
Article
The process of de-Europeanisation initiated by the British Government’s form of Brexit poses a major threat to the maintenance of peace in Northern Ireland (NI). This paper contends that a hard Brexit and active dismantling of ties to the European Union (EU) pursued by the Johnson Administration is fundamentally incompatible with the provisions of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement (GFA). It is acknowledged that the EU institutions were not directly responsible for achieving the relative peace that resulted. Yet, the EU provided a constructive context for societal normalisation. Shared EU membership improved engagement between the British and Irish governments, fostering ‘habits of co-operation’. It afforded a shared political space that helped transcend binary political, religious and ethnic differences. The implications of Brexit that entails active de-Europeanisation and resulting tensions concerning the NI protocol are therefore significant. Yet, this paper maintains that the long-term impact of Brexit remains uncertain. For instance, it is not clear that a ‘hard’ Brexit will inevitably result in the unification of Ireland. Deadlock marked by prolonged instability appears likely, provoking the re-emergence of sectarian violence. The paper addresses such themes by placing borders and identities at the centre of its analytical framework.
 
Article
The article aims to explain the 2020 approval of ‘Next Generation EU’, the program for helping the EU member states to go beyond the pandemic. The approval of NG-EU is interpreted in the context of a confrontation between three distinct interstate coalitions, coordinating a group of countries from the north (the Frugal coalition) against the core of continental countries (the Solidarity coalition) and then a group of countries from the east (the Sovereignty coalition) against the previous two coalitions allied together. Based on the discursive institutionalism’s approach, the article reconstructs the policy discourse shared by the members of each coalition, coherently utilized along the fault lines which conceptually structured the 2020 policy-making process. The policy coherence and the organizational consistency of the three coalition cores affected the EU policy-making process more than the inter-institutional relations between the Commission and national governments. The article concludes advancing arguments for interpreting the sub-regional segmentation of the EU.
 
Article
With the outbreak of the Eurozone crisis, the idea of providing cross-national financial transfers to countries in economic and financial difficulties has exacerbated the political divide between EU member states with strong macroeconomic performances, which were only weakly hit by the crisis, and the countries of the Eurozone periphery that struggled with a harsh economic downturn. This paper aims to explain which factors drive public support for cross-national solidarity within and across countries. We argue that the national context in which citizens live affects their preferences for providing financial help to other European countries, and moderates the role played by subjective egotropic and sociotropic economic concerns, ideological predispositions, and Eurosceptic vote choices in shaping public support for European solidarity. Using the original REScEU 2016 survey, we find that subjective economic motivations provide a limited contribution in explaining support for European solidarity, and almost only in countries weakly hit by the crisis. On the contrary, left–right positions, and especially Eurosceptic vote choices, strongly polarize preferences for EU financial assistance, both within and across countries with voters from Eurosceptic parties more(less) likely to support European solidarity in countries strongly(weakly) hit by the Eurozone crisis.
 
Article
The strategic objectives of the European Union’s (EU) Eastern Partnership (EaP) can be considered a result of Polish–German compromise-building. According to the model of Europeanisation through cross-loading, member states can reach a compromise between each other’s initiatives, even if they pursue divergent interests. They can, thus, seek a broader European consensus around their initiatives by coordinating each other’s complementary coalition-building skills (in relation to different strategic allies). For example, Poland promoted the EaP among Germany’s Russian-orientated EU foreign policy allies. Therefore, Poland responded to German expectations: it presented the EaP as a ‘non-anti-Russian’ initiative and, by doing so, abandoned an EU enlargement option. In turn, Germany sought to avoid accusations from Poland and its Russo-sceptical allies that Berlin was prioritising EU–Russian cooperation. Therefore, Germany backed the EaP. It also accepted Polish proposals to acknowledge the ‘European aspirations’ of the EU’s Eastern neighbours and to develop a more unconditional association with Ukraine. However, the Polish–German compromise only concealed the countries’ strategic-interest divergences. The EaP proceeded, but without a finalité. Moreover, Germany’s (partly) individual responses to the recent Russia–Ukraine crisis, and Poland’s broader Euroscepticism, have highlighted again Polish–German interest divergences and constrained their potential for bilateral compromises.
 
Continuum of the post-Brexit pathways with Europe
Article
What is the impact of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU on British policies, polity and politics and their future trajectories? This question has been overlooked so far, as many observers have focused on the identity, cultural, and political reasons behind the Brexit vote or scrutinized closely the process of withdrawal. The de-Europeanization literature has tried to capture the new dynamics behind the impact of Brexit on the domestic scene by understanding it as a will to dismantle policies and politics previously Europeanized. On the contrary, we argue here that Brexit is not necessarily the end of UK’s engagement with the EU. This editorial and this special issue provide a more nuanced explanation and support the idea that Brexit is not putting an end to the EU’s influence over British public policies. In fact, we identify several pathways to the EU–UK relationship which can be conceptualized along a continuum from de-Europeanization to re-engagement scenarios. Building on the literature that has suggested the trajectories of disengagement and de-Europeanization, this editorial more specifically contributes to the debate by coining the concept of continued engagement and re-engagement and highlighting the need to analyse British politics, policies, and polity in relation to the EU through a variety of pathways.
 
Article
AI and other forms of automation are causing a shift into a more capital-intensive form of capitalism. Many scholars have suggested that we can best understand this process as the cost-efficient substitution of labour by capital in routine tasks based on relative factor costs. However, this model, which has cast firms as endlessly chasing the productivity frontier, has not paid sufficient attention to cross-national divergences in technological changes. This paper builds a comparative historical case study tracing the divergent introduction of credit scoring in British and German bank branches to argue that the introduction of credit scoring was a result of a policy-led process in both countries. Increased liberalisation of financial market institutions benefitted the rise of market-led banking which fundamentally changed the business model of banks resulting in a devaluation of the services provided by branch managers. This case suggests we need to think about the role of politics and policy within our, often deterministic, models of labour-saving technological change.
 
Article
By focusing on ECB’s economic policy thinking and its internal politics of ideas, this research aims to provide two contributions to knowledge. Firstly, it seeks to enhance scholarly understanding of ideational change inside international organisations (IOs). To do so, it asks (a) how ECB’s economic policy thinking has evolved since the outbreak of the euro crisis, and (b) what drives change in ECB’s ideas on the best way to deepen Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) in its fiscal and economic realms. To answer these questions, fiscal policy, structural reforms and convergence towards resilient economic structures are used as case studies. The article argues that the interplay between changes in ECB’s leadership and internal policy discussions promoted by ideational entrepreneurs played a pivotal role in enabling new ideas to emerge inside the Bank. Secondly, by interrogating ECB’s ideas on the way to complete EMU, this research reflects on the future of the euro. It shares the view that the construction of cognitive authority within IOs is an ongoing political struggle over the ideas underpinning the everyday practice of global governance. By looking at the politics of ideas within the ECB, this article aims to contribute to the international political economy of EMU deepening.
 
Party organizational variance (per dimension and period)
Within-country party organizational variance (overall profile, per period)
Article
The aim of this contribution is twofold: first, to verify empirically how and to what extent party organizations vary within countries, in time; second, to enhance the role of political factors in explaining organizational variance. While mainstream literature has generally overestimated cross-national party convergence, a renewed interest in the study of variance has recently gained ground. We thus focus on seven European countries, from 1990 to 2010, by combining party organizational data from the Party Organization Data Handbook and the Political Party Database Project, with domestic cultural, socioeconomic, technological data from the European Values Survey and the World Bank, as well as supranational economic data provided by the OECD. We are interested in verifying how much of the variance in party organizations can be explained by resorting to the parameters of the party systems vis-à-vis domestic and supranational extra-political factors. Our results show that the explanatory power of party systems’ parameters is stronger than the predictive ability of contextual variables.
 
Germany’s top 10 income share and CA surplus.
Source of data World Inequality Database, OECD
Germany, net lending by sector (percent of GDP).
Source of data Eurostat
Monthly number of news items (data scraped from reuters.de)
Number of critical and defensive statements by stakeholder category
Number of critical and defensive statements by party
Article
Germany’s excessive current account surpluses mirror domestic problems. They are rooted in inequality and a weak home market, creating an overdependence on exports. Why, then, are policymakers so reluctant to reduce them? This paper argues that a contributing factor is the public misrepresentation of surpluses’ domestic costs. Imbalances are narrated as distributional conflicts between countries, not within them; and bilateral trade is framed as a competition, where surplus countries win. The analysis reconstructs stakeholders’ positions and discursive strategies through media narratives and Bundestag debates, using an original dataset of public statements. It finds evidence for a systematic bias disregarding the domestic losers of surpluses. Whenever imbalances are discussed, the triggering event is outside criticism, mainly from the European Commission and the US. The ensuing debate follows an ‘us versus them’ logic, where foreign critics clash with domestic defenders—mainly the government and export-sector organisations. The success narrative and identitarian discourse about an ‘export nation’ limits left-wing actors’ room to move beyond incremental criticism. The analysis finds an effect of European integration exacerbating imbalances. Germans fend off critics by an arena-shifting strategy: pointing out that exchange rates and trade are European-level prerogatives, disregarding internal policy levers for rebalancing.
 
Article
Brexit was often associated with a recent upsurge of populism in Western democracies, with the idea of re-engaging with the people being construed as a populist strategy to disengage from Europe. This article seeks to explore the populist hypothesis by stepping outside the dominant literature on populism to take a closer look at Peter Mair's ‘populist democracy’ as applied to two defining moments: David Cameron’s decision to hold a referendum on EU membership and Boris Johnson’s process of implementing Brexit. Mair's notion encompasses two aspects—procedural and substantive populism—which seem to apply to both moments. While Cameron's long leadership (2005–2016) reveals changes in governing practices and party management which have altered the nature of the relationship between the leader and the ‘people’, Boris Johnson’s (2019–) more contemporary leadership can be described as an illustration of a new populist rhetoric in its combination of hard Brexit, anti-immigration and anti-Parliament discourse. Although both leaderships expose ingredients of Mair’s two variants of populism, the ‘populist hypothesis’ does not hold in the light of the type of leaders that Cameron and Johnson have actually turned out to be.
 
Article
Brexit represents a constantly evolving and complex process. To explore it, this paper proposes a new perspective by applying reputation concept arguments in order to observe the general evolution of the EU-UK relationships investigated it from the cultural policy case and with a study of the British Council. It argues that the UK agency responsible for educational exchanges and cultural relations with international influence can be an example of re engagement. As soon as the referendum was announced, the British Council tried to capitalise on Brexit to strengthen its bilateral ties with the European cultural and educational institutions. The UK and the British Council do not have any motive to withdraw from interstitial spaces like European networks for example. The British Council thus reengages under a new status of third country in some European cultural networks or in some programs like Creative Europe or Erasmus+. The analysis of the British Council’s reputation and soft power provides insights into its capacity to share and implement its post-Brexit story about European integration but also the tensions engendered by the specificity of the cultural field. Focusing first on the British Council’s history and its links with the FCO, this article examines then the “audience networks” that the British Council has developed. Finally, the rupture created by Brexit brings to strengthen its cooperation with its European counterparts and to re-enforce the post-Brexit EU-UK cultural cooperation.
 
Article
COVID-19 regulations introduced in EU member states in 2020 meant serious restrictions for the free movement of persons, particularly workers. An ensuing gap in the supply of workers raised concerns of food shortages in the West. Governments in several EU member states enacted regulations to except the workers from restrictions facilitating their travel from Eastern Europe. In this study, we focus on EU-level responses to the COVID-19 crisis in relation to labour shortages in the food industry, and on the reactions in Germany and the UK. Firstly, referring to Schmidt (2020) and Wolff and Ladi (2020), we argue that the COVID-19 crisis placed the EU in a permanent emergency mode facilitating a quick response to enable labour mobility with less priority on the coordination of social rights. Secondly, the crisis exposed issues pertaining to working conditions, including housing and sanitation. Thirdly, differences between the reactions in Germany and the UK were consistent with the pre-existing trends in both countries. While a traditional emphasis on quality working conditions made it “appropriate” for the German government to initiate regulatory change, small-scale measures taken in the UK were directed towards maintaining an influx of migrant workers, rather than ensuring adequate working conditions.
 
Article
This paper attempts to weigh into the debate on whether and if so, to what extent the policy response to the pandemic of the EU, most notably among others, the Recovery and Resilience Fund of the Next Generation EU, its conditionality, and the response of the ECB, marks a qualitative change rather than echoing the legacies of the previous crisis by looking into the case of Greece. According to the third-generation comparative capitalism literature, the EU economic integration has been favouring export-led growth models over domestic-demand led ones through several channels, which included fiscal rules, financial support conditionality and monetary policy. During the pandemic, there have been apparent shifts in some of these channels. Greece has entered the pandemic with vulnerabilities from previous economic adjustment programmes it had to follow, large enough to warrant 'enhanced surveillance' by the European Commission, as well as challenging fiscal condition-ality to secure some preferential treatment by its Eurozone partners/lenders of its public debt, to improve its fragile sustainability. This article assesses the risks that the Greek Recovery and Resilience Plan may face, given the economic, social and political legacies of and the lingering conditionality from the previous crisis. It thus illustrates how the implementation of the EU response to the pandemic in Greece is constrained by the legacy of the previous crisis despite shifts in policy channels through which the EU economic integration has been shaping national capitalisms.
 
Social Protection expenditure in Spain and Italy (excluding pension and unemployment benefits) (2005–2018) Euro per inhabitant (at constant 2010 prices) Purchasing power standard (PPS) per inhabitant .
Source: authors’ elaboration on the Eurostat online database
The role of cash benefits on social protection expenditure in Spain and Italy in comparative perspective (share of total social protection benefits absorbed by social transfers) (2005–2017).
Source: authors’ elaboration on the Eurostat online database
Attitudes towards the EU in Spain and Italy since the mid-2000s.
Source: Eurobarometer online database
Article
This article asks whether the novel EU approach to member states’ economic adjustment strategies constitutes a ‘social investment turn’ by the Italian and Spanish welfare states. The analytical framework combines insights from different strands of the literature on policy change, in particular those devoted to policy legacies and to policy-making ‘conditionings’ (constraints and facilitators). The study assesses the extent of social investment, as advocated by EU country-specific recommendations, of the set of measures introduced to fight the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and of programmatic documents issued by the Italian and Spanish executives, such as the State Budget Laws for 2021 and National Recovery and Resilience Plans. In order to evaluate the impact of new conditionality on policy outputs, the article then turns to consider the economic, social and policy legacies of the previous economic crisis and what would have been the prospects for a social investment turn in the absence of Next Generation EU funding. Conclusions show that, at least at the level of intentions, ‘carrots’ seem to be working better than ‘sticks’ on the quest for more intense social investment in Italy and Spain.
 
Main steps of the EU’s fiscal response to the COVID-19 pandemic
Source: authors' own creation, on the bais of main events
Article
This Special Issue focuses on how EU politics, policies and institutions, all nested in the past, have a bearing on welfare states in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In this introductory article, we first provide a brief overview of the growing scholarship on the impact of the pandemic on both national welfare systems and EU policies. We then contextualise the initial pandemic policy responses by highlighting the economic challenges to European welfare states leftover from the Great Recession and Eurozone crisis before outlining the timeline of the EU reaction to the COVID-19 crisis, culminating in the Next Generation EU deal. Finally, we summarize the distinctive empirical and theoretical perspectives of each contribution to this Special Issue. Taken together, the articles in this issue offer a much-needed analysis of the interplay between EU level and member state politics that furthers our understanding of the social and economic policies implemented in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe.
 
Article
Emmanuel Macron was elected President of France in 2017 on a programme that promised to confront the structural antagonism between the country’s social model and the liberalising thrust of European integration since Maastricht. His novel political offer combined supply-side reforms at home and the strengthening of the social dimension of the European Union, starting with the operation of European economic governance. And he saw simultaneous and explicitly linked action in both the domestic and European arenas—two-level reformism—as crucial in generating political support for this project. This paper assesses his government’s success in realising these objectives, and asks what if anything the COVID-19 crisis changed. Focusing on the crucial case of unemployment insurance, it shows how pre-pandemic reform efforts were complicated by deeply embedded policy legacies and were insufficient to significantly enhance France’s leverage at European level. COVID-19 generated some unanticipated momentum behind aspects of Macron’s plans for Eurozone reform, but at the same time further complicated both the implementation and the politics of his domestic reform agenda. Overall the French case underscores the challenges of radically reorienting mature welfare states, European economic governance and their interaction, even in the presence of major endogenous and exogenous shocks.
 
Article
This article explores continuity and change in Germany’s policy towards economic and monetary integration, comparing its approach to the Eurozone crisis with its response to the economic challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. As the largest EU member state with significant macroeconomic relevance for the whole of the Eurozone, Germany presents a critical case during both episodes. The article adopts an historical institutionalist approach to exploring policy evolution, identifying the key interests and ideas that have driven German policy. The analysis is based on the ‘failing forward’ argument, applied to German domestic politics. German policy has evolved through an incremental layering process that both facilitated and constrained the architecture of the Eurozone. The Franco-German proposal for a reconstruction fund in May 2020 seemed to conflict with a long-standing German opposition to mutualising debt. The article argues that it in fact represented a further stage in the process (layering and conversion) rather than a critical juncture or paradigm change in policy. However, the resultant Recovery and Resilience Facility may prove to be another incomplete policy response due to the deepening consequences of the pandemic and the interventions of Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court.
 
Economic vulnerabilities during the Euro-crisis and immediately before the pandemic
Pre-pandemic economic vulnerability as a correlate of the NGEU grants
Support of EU and allocation of the NGEU grants
Share of respondents (%) whose image of the EU got worse since the start of the coronavirus pandemic
Source: Calculated from European Parliament 2021a, b
Severity of pandemic and amount of grants
Article
In this article, we show that Next Generation EU (NGEU) is mainly a response to the economic and political imbalances left over from the Eurozone crisis. It is a pre-emptive intervention, especially targeted at structurally weak economies with rising Euroscepticism, to avoid costly ex-post bailouts as in the Great Recession. We demonstrate, using quantitative analysis, that pre-existing vulnerabilities, rather than the impact of the pandemic, drove the allocation of NGEU resources: per capita grants largely correspond to past economic vulnerabilities, as well as to political ones. Countries most vulnerable to another adjustment by austerity after the COVID-19 economic crisis receive most resources. Also, countries with strong anti-EU sentiments are entitled to larger NGEU grants per capita. In contrast, grants are not correlated with the severity of the health crisis. Then, we show the domestic relevance of economic and political vulnerabilities through qualitative case studies of national political debates and domestic positions on NGEU in Italy, Germany and the Netherlands. Despite its innovative traits, NGEU is a politically constrained solution to address the mess from the previous decade, and as such, it is a Janus solution: promising a fresh start, but haunted by the past.
 
Combinations of democratic and federal government. Own revised depiction, adapted from the aforementioned illustrative cases (Canada, Germany, Switzerland, United States) elaborated further in Benz (2009, 2020).
Separation of powers among EU institutions.
Source: own depiction
The multilevel executive and implementation (ordinary legislation).
Source: own depiction
Pattern(s) of EU government between separation and sharing of powers.
Source: own depiction
Article
The European Union remains an ambivalent polity. This uncertainty complicates the assessment of its democratic and federal quality. Drawing on comparative federalism research can contribute not only to making sense of whether, or rather which kind of federalism the EU has developed. It can also enable addressing such a compounded, but necessary inquiry into the federal and democratic character of the EU and how to ascertain which type of democratic government for which type of federal union may be appropriate. The article first elaborates a framework to assess the dimensions of federal and democratic government, drawing on comparative federalism research to delineate basic types of federal democracy. Here the democratic dimension of government is taken as referring primarily to the horizontal division of powers (among ‘branches’) of government, the federal dimension to the vertical division of powers (among ‘levels’) of governments. The framework is applied to the government of the EU in order to gauge its own type(s) of division of power arrangements and the interlinkage between them. Finally, the discussion reflects on whether or rather how the EU could comprise a federal democracy , especially in light of recent crisis challenges and subsequent institutional developments in EU governance.
 
Article
The paper evaluates the convergence paths of Central and Eastern European member states of the EU during the 2010s, when the main task for these countries was avoiding the middle-income trap—when wages are not so low anymore to compete with less developed countries, while innovation is not developed enough yet to compete with developed countries. Using various statistical indicators, the paper shows that while most countries in the region have been on a convergence path during the decade under analysis, not all succeeded in avoiding the trap. While some countries successfully implemented policies to step on the path of productivity- and innovation-led growth (Czechia, Slovenia, Estonia, and Lithuania), in several other states, growth was supported mainly by low costs and loose monetary conditions including significant transfers from the EU. The comparative analysis of Estonia and Hungary illustrates the different growth models and shows how the institutional system plays a key role in exiting the trap.
 
Political parties’ position ambiguity, voters’ issue salience, and party support. Note: Circles are coefficients, and solid lines indicate their 95% confidence intervals. The coefficients and confidence intervals are calculated with the result of model 4 in Table 1
Predicted probabilities. Note: Solid lines are predicted probabilities, and shaded areas indicate their 95% confidence intervals. The predicted probabilities and confidence intervals are calculated with the result of model 4 in Table 1. The values of other variables are fixed at their mean levels. The probabilities are those of a respondent’s choosing 10 in a 0–10 scale as her response to the question of how probable she is to vote for each political party when she puts salience on each issue
Article
Do political parties electorally benefit from presenting ambiguous policy positions? We suggest that the electoral effect of position ambiguity on an issue depends on the salience of the issue to voters. We use data on political parties’ party position, position ambiguity, and issue emphasis as well as survey data on voters’ issue salience. We find that ambiguous party positions on an issue weaken the electoral support of people who put salience on the issue. However, position ambiguity does not alter the electoral support of people who do not consider the issue salient. Our results imply that the electoral effect of position blurring in Western Europe should be understood in the context of party competition in multi-dimensional issue space. They also imply that political parties may face a dilemma between policy flexibility and electoral loss by presenting ambiguous party positions.
 
Number of speaking opportunities by member type
Words spoken by member type
Article
Inclusion is a central tenet in deliberative democratic theory and an important indicator of the quality of a deliberative mini-public (DMP). Empirical measures of deliberation assess the quality of a deliberative exchange according to criteria drawn from deliberative theory; the discourse quality index is one well-known example. Despite the importance of inclusion in deliberative theory, existing measures do not account for this aspect of deliberative quality. This paper introduces and uses a measure for assessing the inclusiveness of deliberation called “deliberative uptake”. This paper describes the new measure and applies it to the case of Ireland’s Convention on the Constitution, a forum in which both citizens and politicians were included as members. The results suggest that politician members were more likely to receive deliberative uptake for their ideas than their citizen counterparts. In addition, women and men received similar levels of deliberative uptake throughout the Convention.
 
Anti-immigration attitudes among MPs in eleven EU countries
The effect of general left–right ideological placement in Western and Eastern Europe
The effect of preference for social security over competitiveness in Western and Eastern Europe
Article
This article calls for greater attention to immigration attitudes of members of national parliaments (MPs) who absent harmonized immigration policy at the EU level remain the chief decision-makers and are thus responsible for swift government reaction to large influx of immigrants as witnessed in summer 2015 and spring 2020. Against this background, attitudes of MPs toward non-EU immigrants can be highly informative for understanding the foundation and direction of future immigration policy reforms. Although knowledge of MPs immigration attitudes is seemingly important, studies interested in this topic remain scarce. To test the relative importance of identity and economic aspects of MPs' immigration attitudes, this study adopts few well-established theoretical approaches from citizen-level research. Our data come from an MP survey that was administered in 11 Western and Eastern European countries in late 2014 as part of the European National Elites and the Crisis project. Our results suggest that social identity (religiosity) along with political ideology rather than economic concerns drive MPs' immigration attitudes. In addition, we find that in Eastern Europe immigration is only a light force behind political competition unlike in Western Europe, while economic left in Eastern Europe is more anti-immigrant than in Western Europe.
 
Sub-CSR implementation rates based on a given degree of congruence with NRPs. Source: Author’s own compilation based on sub-CSRs from 2013–2018
Different degrees of congruence across member states. Source: Author’s own compilation based on sub-CSRs from 2013–2018
Predicted probabilities of sub-CSRs’ implementation based on different degrees of congruence with NRPs. Note: The predicted probabilities were calculated based on Model 3
Article
An increasing amount of research on the concept of national ownership in EU soft law governance has generated a lot of insights on: (1) its conceptualization; (2) how EU institutions foster national ownership; (3) the extent to which member state governments and other stakeholders obtain ownership. Despite all of this valuable progress, however, it remains unclear as to whether increased national ownership really improves the implementation of soft law. Based on the insights from the important management school of compliance theory, this study begins by theorizing why the member states would comply with international agreements, which they have ownership of. Then, based on an analysis of a unique dataset from the European Semester, the findings indicate that member states implement the EU recommendations better when the governments have a high level of ownership. Therefore, this study confirms the potential of enhancing national ownership in improving soft law implementation in the EU.
 
Populist securitization: frames and actors
Article
Bridging arguments between securitization theory and populist communication, this article shifts attention to the strategy of ‘populist securitization’. It argues that populist parties may seek to ‘securitize’ international political issues for the purpose of domestic political mobilization. Empirically, it demonstrates the relevance of populist securitization for the case of Austria’s foreign policy on the Global Compact on Migration during the coalition government (2017–2019) between the populist radical right Freedom Party (FPÖ) and the conservative People’s Party (ÖVP). The case study of the GCM elucidates the active interest populist parties like the FPÖ take in shaping foreign policy decisions that are close to their domestic political agenda. If successful, populist securitization can have a profound and sustained impact on the public perceptions of foreign policy issues and can create a sense of urgency about the need for an appropriate foreign policy response. In doing so, foreign policy becomes part of the game of domestic politics that can affect foreign policy decisions.
 
Article
The election in Greece in 2015 of a governing coalition of populist parties—the radical left SYRIZA and the right-wing Independent Greeks (ANEL)—created questions about Greece’s foreign policy orientation, particularly its alignment with Euro-Atlantic institutions and a potential rapprochement with non-Western powers. Yet these fears proved unfounded after Greece accepted a new bailout from the Eurozone in the summer of 2015. The trajectory of Greek foreign policy in this period points to an increase in the influence of populism on rhetoric and symbolic actions in the first six months of the government’s tenure, followed by a gradual decline of populism’s visibility for the rest of its term until 2019. On the whole, populism had a marginal influence on the content of Greek foreign policy during the years of the economic crisis, although it was more important in terms of rhetoric, style and domestic political strategies.
 
Article
In Italy, the Five Star Movement (M5S) and the Northern League (LN) formed a coalition government after the legislative elections of March 2018. What has been the actual impact of the populist executive in the Italian foreign policy? Relying on the (few) existing analyses that have developed specific hypotheses on the expected international repercussions of populist parties-ruled governments, the paper examines Italy’s foreign policy under the Italian “Yellow–Green” cabinet (June 2018–August 2019). The manuscript advances three hypotheses. First, the foreign policy of the Conte’s government has been featured by a personalistic and a centralized decision-making process. Second, the Yellow-Green executive has adopted a vocal confrontational stance on the world stage, especially within multilateral frameworks, to “take back control” over national sovereignty. Third, such sovereignist foreign policy was largely symbolic because of “strategic” populist attitudes toward public opinion and due to domestic and international constraints. The manuscript—which is based on secondary and primary sources, such as interviews with former ministers, MPs, and diplomats—aims at offering a new perspective on populist parties and foreign policy, alimenting the rising debate on foreign policy change.
 
OOR modifications in Hungarian foreign policy-making institutions
Populist arguments in foreign policy
Article
There is a general scholarly consensus that populist governments undermine liberal democracy at home, but less agreement over how they behave abroad. While many scholars still subscribe to the view that populism has no consistent impact on foreign policy, we argue that populist leaders engage in a characteristic set of behaviors calculated to elevate the state’s status on the international stage. However, the mechanism by which populist elite-versus people rhetoric translates into concrete foreign policy action remains underspecified. To address this gap, we develop a model showing how populism serves as a political argument to enable status elevation on the international stage. To illustrate this mechanism in action, we analyze the foreign policy rhetoric and behavior of the 2010–2020 Fidesz governments in Hungary, showing how populist argumentation was used to justify revisionist foreign policy through (1) the politicization of diplomatic machinery, (2) confrontation with traditional allies, and (3), the pursuit of more flexible partnerships. In these three respects, we show how populist arguments were used by Orbán to achieve a revolution in Hungarian foreign affairs.
 
Top-cited authors
Leonard Seabrooke
  • Copenhagen Business School
Herman Schwartz
  • University of Virginia
Manfred G. Schmidt
  • Universität Heidelberg
Milada Anna Vachudova
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Liesbet Hooghe
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill & RSC EUI Florence