Book

Interests and Integration: Market Liberalization, Public Opinion, and European Union

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... The utilitarian model is a classic explanation in the study of support for European integration (Anderson and Reichert 1995;Gabel 1998;Hooghe and Marks 2005). The model comes from economic theory and builds on the causal mechanism of utility maximization. ...
... It predicts that the more utility an individual gets from the EU, the more they will be in favour of it. Hence, those who receive fewer economic benefits from European integration will be less supportive (Ejrnaes and Jensen 2019;Gabel 1998). The literature suggests that older, less educated, poorer and unemployed people will experience firms relocating to less costly locations or possibly lose their jobs to immigrants due to free movement of workers (Ejrnaes and Jensen 2019;Gabel 1998;Hooghe and Marks 2005). ...
... Hence, those who receive fewer economic benefits from European integration will be less supportive (Ejrnaes and Jensen 2019;Gabel 1998). The literature suggests that older, less educated, poorer and unemployed people will experience firms relocating to less costly locations or possibly lose their jobs to immigrants due to free movement of workers (Ejrnaes and Jensen 2019;Gabel 1998;Hooghe and Marks 2005). One would therefore expect that the lower a person's income and education, the less supportive they will be of European integration. ...
Article
Studies have suggested that people voting for Brexit were motivated by anti-globalization, anti-multiculturalism and anti-elite sentiments. However, little is known about how these factors are related and whether citizens in other member states share similar reasons for wanting to exit the EU. Methodologically, this question is addressed by utilizing path models on data from the European Social Survey, with respondents in 17 countries. Empirically, this article reveals considerable cross-country variation, which implies that motivations for voting Leave should be assessed on a country-by-country basis. Yet, two main pathways are identified. First, lower education is related to more negative attitudes towards multiculturalism, which increases the probability of voting Leave. Second, lower income decreases the level of trust in the political establishment, which again increases the probability of voting Leave. Theoretically, this implies that the anti-globalization model is subsumed by the anti-multiculturalism and anti-elite models, giving rise to two new mechanisms.
... What determines public opinion on European integration and EU policies? The extant literature presents three explanations of EU attitudes: material cost-benefit calculations, identity considerations, and cue-taking. 2 According to economic self-interest accounts, Europeans with higher educational attainment and marketable occupational skills are better able to compete in an integrated labor market and are thus more supportive of international economic integration (Hobolt, 2014;Gabel, 1998). Affluent Europeans benefit from EU policies that reduce inflation, public sector spending, and restrictions on open financial markets, and they also tend to favor European integration (Gabel and Palmer, 1995). ...
Conference Paper
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This study argues that the EU's adoption of a policy increases popular support for that policy. Elite cue theory implies that this effect only materializes among Europeans who trust the Union. Moreover, EU member states' unanimous policy support conveys a stronger cue than the Union's policy endorsement despite vocal dissent. The argument is tested through original survey experiments and the quasi-experimental analysis of a survey that was fielded while the European Council endorsed a salient policy proposal. Support of the policy surged immediately after this decision-but only among Europeans who trust the Union. Experiments in original national surveys confirm that citizens who trust the EU respond to signals from Brussels. Unanimity in the Council of the EU augments the impact of these cues. Word count: 9,279 * I thank Jeffry Frieden, Roman Hlatki, Tobias Hofmann, Michal Parízek, and audience members at annual meetings of APSA and IPES in 2021 and ISA in 2022 for helpful comments. All errors are mine.
... Suuri enemmistö unionimaiden asukkaista samastuu ensisijaisesti omaan jäsenvaltioonsa tai sen alaiseen yksikköön.(Wiberg 2000.) 3) Kansalaisten asennoitumista integraatioon selittävät pitkälti samat taustatekijät, jotka selittävät kansalaisten osallistumista kansalliseen politiikkaan(Gabel 1998). 4) Kansanedustajat ovat äänestäjiään integraatiomyönteisempiä. ...
Article
This paper focuses on the historical ties between Protestantism and the nation-state, as well as between Catholicism and supranationalism, to widen the political science debate on different conditions of EU issue voting . Research suggests that the political context in each nation-state shapes the extent to which individual Eurosceptic attitudes influence the decision to vote for Eurosceptic parties. In addition to this, I expect that a nations' religious background responds differently to this relationship. Using data from the 2014 European Parliament elections, I show that citizens from predominantly Protestant countries actually decide for Eurosceptic parties if they hold negative attitudes towards European integration. In contrast, citizens from predominantly Catholic countries may or may not vote for Eurosceptic parties, but their voting decision is not based on individual EU attitudes such as support for European integration, trust in EU institutions or European identity.
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Existing research has primarily focused on the role of utility and identity in shaping individuals’ European Union (EU) preferences. This article argues that macroeconomic context is a crucial predictor of attitudes towards transnational financial assistance, which has been omitted from previous analyses. Using data from the 2014 European Election Studies (EES) Voter Study for 28 EU member states, we demonstrate that citizens living in poorer EU countries are less willing to support fiscal solidarity than their counterparts in more affluent countries. Country affluence serves as a heuristic moderating the relationship between individual-level utility and identity considerations and willingness to show solidarity to member states with economic difficulties. When a country does not fare well economically, citizens’ views on providing help to others remain negative, irrespective of individual-level utilitarian and identity considerations. Our findings have implications for understanding the decision-making calculus underlying preference formation.
Chapter
This chapter delivers a composition of relevant theoretical models and concepts that serve as the fundament of the empirical analyses of the book. The central concept linking the persistence of the political system of the EU to the citizens’ attitudes is political support. In tradition of research on political culture, the chapter traces the theoretical development of the support concept from its original application to the transfer to supranational regimes such as the EU. The key postulate within this strand of research is that the persistence of a political system depends on the congruence between citizens’ political culture and the regime’s structure. The decision to embed the study of the citizens’ perspective on the Euro crisis into this framework is suitable since an acute crisis resembles a real test for the citizens’ support of a political regime and thereby its ultimate persistence. Ultimately, this chapter delivers a further conceptualization of the idea of a critical event that has the potential to fundamentally change citizens’ political attitudes.
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In the early days of European integration, identity politics played a marginal role in what was an isolated, elite-driven, and unpoliticised integration process. Things have changed dramatically, however. European integration has entered the area of mass politics, and against the backdrop of the recent crises and the Brexit referendum, people’s self-understanding as (also) European or exclusively national has the potential to determine the speed and direction of European integration. This development is also reflected in theory building. While neo-functionalism and liberal intergovernmentalism paid little attention to public opinion, the conflict between collective identities and functionality is at the heart of postfunctionalist theory. This article assesses the use value of these grand theories of European integration for understanding identity politics in the European Union, and embeds them in a wider discussion of scholarly research on the causes and consequences of European identity.
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Free trade generates macroeconomic gains but also creates winners and losers. Historically, to reconcile this tension, governments compensated globalization losers with social spending in exchange for support for free trade, known as the embedded liberalism compromise. In the neoliberal era, what other policies can governments pursue to strengthen support for globalization? We assess the effect of social standards in preferential trade agreements (PTAs) on individual preferences for free trade. We analyze data from an original survey experiment and find that respondents in advanced industrialized countries have greater support for free trade when PTAs include social standards. Differences do exist in how these social standards are perceived: while we do find evidence of an embedded liberalism compromise recast, fair trade norms have the most salience. An external validity check using the PEW global attitudes survey confirms the hypothesis. Our analysis has serious implications for the legitimacy of the global trading system suffering from neo-mercantilist creep.
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This paper investigates popular non-support for international organizations (IO), asking two questions. First, are attitudes within the mass public becoming less supportive of IOs? Second, how can we explain these IO attitudes, especially when the mass public appears to know relatively little about specific international institutions? Using survey data from the International Social Survey Programme’s National Identity module, fielded across multiple countries in 1995, 2003, and 2013, it reports that on average and within most countries, citizen attitudes about IOs have become less positive over time. To explain these attitudes, this paper argues that citizens tend to group things that appear as “international” such as cross-border economic flows and IOs. While citizens might feel positively or negatively about these international factors, this grouping implies that they view them similarly, based on what they can feel from the international level related to their job and income. Thus, less (more) skilled citizens who are hurt by (who benefit from) economic globalization should express more negative (positive) views about IOs. Controlling for cultural attitudes socialized through education, we find that skill is a statistically significant and substantively strong predictor of IO attitudes. We also show how this individual-level skill difference gets larger in countries that are more and/or less-favorably exposed to economic globalization.
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The European Union and especially European political integration have increasingly become subject to public contestation. The need to build consensus across different national polities severely limits elites’ policy options. In this article we investigate the potential to build cross-national coalitions among the European public using data on the referendums on the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (TCE). We argue that existing cleavage structures should create both opportunities and hurdles for cross-national cooperation and investigate these patterns in all countries where referendums took place (Spain, France, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg). Using binary logistic regressions we find that strong common patterns, especially along party-political lines, co-exist with country-specific factors. These results demonstrate some potential for a supra-national European political space and discourse and that political parties could play a central part in that process.
Article
The fact that highly educated individuals are significantly more likely to self-identify as Europeans than those with lower levels of educational attainment is one of the most robust findings in the scholarship on individual Europeanization. Previous work also shows that this cleavage in supranational identification varies cross-nationally and over time. We contribute to the existing literature by examining the country-level, socio-structural conditions that influence the education cleavage. Focusing on how the educational environment influences identity formation, we test two divergent predictions of how societal education—i.e. the average national level of educational attainment—shapes the cleavage between individuals of differing education levels with respect to their self-identification as European. According to Welzel’s (2013) ‘cross-fertilization approach’, societal education should widen the education divide. By contrast, our alternative ‘cross-attenuating approach’ posits that societal education should instead help to close it. Using a cross-national time-series dataset that includes 28 EU member states and 28 Eurobarometers covering 1992–2015, as well as between–within multilevel models, we find a significantly narrower education cleavage in countries where societal education increased the most during the period of our study. This result provides strong support for the cross-attenuating approach presented here. We theorize that societal education helps to narrow the individual-level education cleavage through a discursive and a network mechanism. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.
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Although the literature about European Union (EU) public opinion is quite extensive, much of it focuses on general indexes of support for the EU or one specific EU policy area. The study of citizens’ appraisal of the EU contribution across socioeconomic policies and its interdependence is uncharted territory. The present article addresses this gap in the research. Using Eurobarometer data, it is demonstrated that national publics tend to be dissatisfied with the EU contribution across policies and that this assessment is consistent and interrelated from one policy to another. Education is found to have only a relatively modest impact on this assessment while the degree of an EU member state’s integration in the world economy is not found to sway the latter. The findings finally show that national levels of unemployment, immigration, income dispersion, and the positioning of party leaderships on social redistribution influence public opinion on EU policy input. In the light of these findings, implications are drawn.
Article
Introduzione La guerra contro la Repubblica Federale di Jugoslavia ha evidenziato i problemi della politica estera italiana degli anni '90. Con non più del 40% dell'opinione pubblica stabilmente a favore dei raid aerei contro la Serbia ed il Kosovo, una veemente opposizione del Vaticano e del Papa in prima persona ed una maggioranza di governo divisa al suo interno tra negoziatori ad oltranza ed auspici di una immediata escalation terrestre, si riproponeva, con maggiore evidenza del passato, il ridotto margine di autonomia dell'esecutivo nel settore della politica di sicurezza. A poco meno di due anni dalla crisi albanese, la leadership politica italiana si è trovata così ad affrontare l'ennesima prova di politica estera, per giunta sul terreno delle armi, un terreno sul quale nell'ultimo quarantennio repubblicano raramente un governo si era avventurato. Rispetto all'ambiente tut to sommato «placido» nel quale la politica estera italiana ha operato nel secondo dopoguerra, gli anni '90, con un ininterrotto susseguirsi di crisi (dal Golfo alla Somalia, dall'Albania alla Bosnia, per finire con il Kosovo) hanno prodotto un maggior numero di sfide, in aree molto più vicine e rilevanti per gli interessi nazionali italiani e in un quadro di minore possibilità di far ricorso al proprio tradizionale alleato, gli Stati Uniti, per risolvere i propri fondamentali problemi di sicurezza. Da qui la necessità di costruire un consenso nazionale intorno alle scelte del governo e, di conseguenza, il crescente interesse per il ruolo che l'opinione pubblica assume nella politica estera italiana. Il Kosovo tuttavia non è il primo caso in cui l'opinione pubblica entra nei calcoli dei decisori nazionali. In questo saggio intendiamo esplorare questo ruolo in un'altra recente crisi che ha visto coinvolta l'Italia, quella relativa al dissolvimento della ex-Jugoslavia, con particolare riferimento alla crisi in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Come diremo nelle conclusioni, da questa esperienza è possibile trarre alcune considerazioni che sembrano dimostrarsi valide anche nel caso del Kosovo.
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This article examines how religious affiliation shapes support for European Union membership. While previous research has shown that Protestants are typically more eurosceptic than Catholics, little is known about the nature of this relationship: specifically, whether religion affects one's utilitarian assessments of the costs and benefits of membership, or one's affective attachment to the EU. Using the 2016 British Election Study Referendum Panel, this article shows that religious affiliation influences both sets of attitudes, suggesting that the values and shared history associated with one's religion shapes how a voter perceives the performance of the EU in delivering its policy objectives, and its operation as a legitimate institution. Moreover, some findings from previous research are challenged: Protestants are not as unified in their scepticism of the EU as is widely assumed, and the positive relationship between Catholicism and support for EU integration is not apparent in the UK.
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Many studies focus on overall support for European integration while less work has been done on explaining public opinion on specific policy areas, such as security and defense policy. We hypothesize that the probability of supporting a single European security and defense policy increases with greater levels of trust in the European Union member states, most notably the more powerful members such as Germany. This variable is critical since integration's development is influenced strongly by, and dependent on, the resources of the relatively more powerful European member states. Regression analyses using pooled repeated cross-sectional data from the Eurobarometer surveys conducted from 1992 to 1997 among individuals of 11 member states largely support these preliminary claims.
Chapter
This chapter adopts a multi-methods approach in order to offer a renewed interpretation of the gap between Belgian elites and ordinary citizens about their level of support for further European integration. Based on the qualitative analysis of candidates’ and voters’ justifications about their attitudes towards integration, the first section generates new hypotheses concluding to the need to introduce public policy preferences as an additional determinant of these attitudes. Following this, the chapter explains candidates’ and voters’ level of support for EU integration. The results show that while Belgian elites are committed to further integration in terms of policy transfer to the European level, most Belgian citizens are not, because of the negative policy effects this could generate.
Article
This article examines how the public perceived Cameron's renegotiation plan, and whether attitudes towards renegotiation followed a similar pattern to attitudes towards Brexit. It asks: are preferences towards renegotiation and Brexit related, and did British citizens perceive them as conflicting or complementary? We model similarities but also differences between these two types of preferences, which allows us to classify the attitudes into four patterns: Unconditional Europhiles, Rejectionist Eurosceptics, Risk-averse Eurosceptics and Power-seeking Eurosceptics. Using a large-N cross-sectional survey conducted in the UK in April 2015 (n=3.000), our findings suggest that similar utilitarian concerns underpinned both types of preferences; but education and partisan cues differentiated them. Our findings have implications for understanding the result of the UK referendum. They also highlight the complex considerations that drive citizens' attitudes towards the EU and help us predict the scope of public acceptance of EU reform initiatives by other governments.
Article
Liberal Intergovernmentalism has a particular set of assumptions about the relationship between voters and governments. Either voters are content to trust their governments, because issues have low salience, or governments react to voters’ preferences. How far is this ‘supply side’ of the theory still valid in the newly politicized world of EU politics? This article discusses the assumptions about representation in the theory, and looks at the conditions under which the assumptions might still hold and what this means for EU politics today. If the representational assumptions still hold in this highly politicized EU world, then the theory would predict policy gridlock. On the other hand, if there is a growing gap between publics and elites, then the assumptions, and the related propositions about the democratic deficit, no‐longer hold. Either way, the inherent optimism of the theory is undermined.
Article
To determine how public opinion matters for the politics of European integration, we need to know what Europeans say about Europe. Yet, despite a proliferation of analyses of public support for Europe, fundamental questions remain. First, does aggregate opinion reflect a single preference for Europe? Second, is the content of opinions similar across countries? Third, have opinions about Europe become more structured over time? Finally, what are the long-term dynamics in opinions about Europe? To answer these questions, we construct a new dataset of historical public opinion since 1952 in France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom. Over the long run, aggregate opinion toward Europe reflects one dominant underlying dimension and its content is similar across countries. We examine the trends in support for Europe.
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Do economic policy preferences distinguish populist voters from mainstream ones? We compare the preference profile of the voters of the Five Star Movement (M5S), one of the most successful southern European populist parties, with the profile of voters of other parties at both the 2013 national and the 2014 European Parliament elections by means of a conjoint analysis experiment on economic policy programs. Despite economic insecurity and recent recessions being key drivers of populist voting, we provide evidence that M5S supporters are fiscally moderate: they are happy with the current size of government and oppose more spending. Their Euroscepticism, shared with right-wing voters and representing a new domestic divide, takes the form of a lukewarm support for the euro, which they would readily ditch if it were to improve economic performance.
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This study investigates whether citizens' concerns about the EU's impact on social security are a distinct source of Euroscepticism. By analysing data from the European Values Study 2008, we show that citizens differentiate between domain-specific fears about European integration (i.e. about social security, national sovereignty, culture, payments and jobs), meaning that they cannot be reduced completely to a general fear about European integration. Furthermore, socioeconomic determinants and ideological position are more important in explaining citizens' fear about the EU's impact on social security than in explaining their generalised fear of European integration. In countries with higher social spending, citizens are more fearful of European integration in general, however, social spending does not affect fears about social security more strongly than it affects other EU-related fears.
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General attitudes of citizens toward the European Union (EU) have frequently been analyzed. However, European integration represents a multifaceted process and citizen attitudes may well depend on the precise nature of policy proposals. In this contribution, we analyze the determinants of specific support for three prominent EU economic policy proposals: the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, Eurobonds, and a EU financial transaction tax. Drawing on Eurobarometer data, we find that four standard explanatory factors—ideology, utility, identity, and cues—also affect support for these policies. However, they do so in systematically different ways, depending on whether the policies primarily represent positive or negative integration and market-making or market-correcting, on how they affect national sovereignty, and on how they are affected by complexity and salience.
Article
We investigate public attitudes toward the fiscal union: a policy advocated in official European Union documents and designed to address asynchronous economic fluctuations in the eurozone. We employ survey questions and conjoint analyses embedded in population-based panel surveys in Italy, and draw expectations from theories of tax-and-transfer schemes, public insurance, ideology, diffuse support, identity and trust. High-income right-wing individuals with weak European identity and negative assessment of EU membership are more likely to oppose the measure. However, high-income respondents display greater willingness to pay, especially in order to keep the euro, whereas lower-income participants are readier to ditch the currency if the monetary union does not deliver good economic performance. The political feasibility of this policy seems therefore to rest on the willingness to contribute by the core constituency supporting the euro. We also investigate the preferences for the institutional design of the policy.
Article
Theories of political emotion suggest that feelings towards an issue or candidate are often better predictors for support than attitudes or preferences. We investigate whether this conjecture also holds for more abstract political entities, such as the European Union (EU), and test whether EU citizens’ feelings toward the EU are significant predictors of their EU support. We first review existing research and provide theory-driven propositions of how positive and negative emotion may influence EU-related attitudes. Second, using multilevel regression models fitted to Eurobarometer data, we estimate how feelings toward the EU are associated with support for the EU. In line with our hypotheses, analyses show that positive emotions are positively associated with EU-support, while negative affect is negatively associated with it. Contrary to some theoretical predictions, however, these effects are not mediated by individuals’ use of EU-related information.
Article
This article analyses the influence that political parties exert upon citizens’ opinions about European Union issues. By measuring at the same time the content and source effects on political attitudes, the article considers the possibility that voters pay less attention to the arguments used in a political message than to its source. Results from an online survey experiment in Spain show that partisan voters use a heuristic model of processing when taking positions on an unfamiliar EU issue, even though the prevalence of the source effect is moderated by the respondent’s political sophistication and party attachment. The results also indicate that some respondents tend to pay less attention to a message’s content when the message comes from their preferred party. Such findings raise concerns about the possibility for EU issue voting to guarantee the accountability of political elites and party–voter linkages.
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The economic crisis and the unequal degree to which it has affected EU member states have fuelled the debate on whether the EU should take responsibility for the living standards of European citizens. The current article contributes to this debate by investigating for the first time public support for an EU-wide minimum income benefit scheme. Through an analysis of data from the European Social Survey 2016, our results reveal that diverging national experiences and expectations are crucial in understanding why Europeans are widely divided on the implementation of such a benefit scheme. The analysis shows that (1) welfare state generosity and perceived welfare state performance dampen support, (2) those expecting that 'more Europe' will increase social protection levels are much more supportive, (3) the stronger support for a European minimum income benefit in less generous welfare states is explained by more-optimistic expectations about the EU's domestic impact, and (4) lower socioeconomic status groups are more supportive of this policy proposal. These findings can be interpreted in terms of sociotropic and egocentric self-interests, and illustrate how (perceived) performance of the national welfare state and expectations about the EU's impact on social protection levels shape support for supranational social policymaking.
Article
Whereas the role of personality traits and political trust have long been argued to impact people's political attitudes, only recently have scholars of the European Union (EU) integration begun to take them into consideration while trying to explain people's attitudes toward the EU. In an effort to explain the support for EU membership among citizens of Albania and Kosovo, we build a series of ordered probit models using as key independent variables two core personality characteristics, self-reported Optimism and Extraversion, and one surface characteristic, political trust. We found evidence that Optimism, Extraversion, trust in EU politicians and the judiciary, as well as trust in domestic politicians positively impact people's support for EU membership. However, we found no evidence that people's trust in the domestic judiciary associates their attitudes toward EU membership. We tested our hypotheses with a probability simple sample of public opinion data gathered in Albania and Kosovo in 2017.
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The COVID-19 pandemic worsened Italy’s fiscal outlook by increasing public debt. If interest rates were to rise, it would become more likely that Italy experiences a financial crisis and requires a European bailout. How does making EU funds conditional on austerity and structural reforms affect Italians’ support for the euro? Based on a novel survey experiment, this article shows that a majority of voters chooses to remain in the euro if a bailout does not involve conditionality, but the pro-euro majority turns into a relative majority for ‘Italexit’ if the bailout is contingent on austerity policies. Blaming different actors for the fiscal crisis has little effect on support. These results suggest that conditionality may turn Italian voters against the euro.
Article
The EU reformed the regulatory rules of the Eurozone in response to the European sovereign debt crisis, empowering the EU to more effectively enforce the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP), which is designed to prevent debt crises. Given recent empirical evidence that the EU’s willingness to enforce EU law depends on public opinion, under what conditions will EU residents view SGP enforcement as an effective way of tackling the crisis? I theorize how individuals will evaluate SGP enforcement and test my theory’s predictions using cross-national survey data from all Eurozone member states and Bayesian multi-level models. I find that respondents’ preferences over SGP enforcement depend on the interaction of their political support for the European Economic and Monetary Union and their member state’s noncompliance with the SGP criteria. Public buy-in for SGP enforcement is lower precisely when enforcement is most important.
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What effects do international crises have on the public legitimacy of International Organizations (IOs)? Deviating from previous research, we argue that such crises make those international organizations more salient that are mandated to solve the respective crisis. This results in two main effects. First, the public legitimacy of those IOs becomes more dependent on citizens' crisis-induced worries, leading to a more positive view of those IOs. Second, as the higher salience also leads to higher levels of elite communication regarding IOs, elite blaming of the IOs during crises results in direct negative effects on public legitimacy beliefs on IOs. Finally, both the valence and content of the elite discourse additionally moderate the positive effects of crisis-induced worries. Implementing survey experiments on public legitimacy beliefs on the WHO during the COVID-19 crisis with about 4400 respondents in Austria, Germany and Turkey, we find preliminary evidence for the expectations derived from our salience argument. In the conclusion, we discuss the implications of these findings for future research on IO legitimacy and IO legitimation. Supplementary information: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s11558-021-09452-y.
Article
What can policy makers do in day‐to‐day decision making to strengthen citizens' belief that the political system is legitimate? Much literature has highlighted that the realization of citizens' personal preferences in policy making is an important driver of legitimacy beliefs. We argue that citizens, in addition, also care about whether a policy represents the preferences of the majority of citizens, even if their personal preference diverges from the majority's. Using the case of the European Union (EU) as a system that has recurringly experienced crises of public legitimacy, we conduct a vignette survey experiment in which respondents assess the legitimacy of fictitious EU decisions that vary in how they were taken and whose preferences they represent. Results from original surveys conducted in the five largest EU countries show that the congruence of EU decisions not only with personal opinion but also with different forms of majority opinion significantly strengthens legitimacy beliefs. We also show that the most likely mechanism behind this finding is the application of a ‘consensus heuristic’, by which respondents use majority opinion as a cue to identify legitimate decisions. In contrast, procedural features such as the consultation of interest groups or the inclusiveness of decision making in the institutions have little effect on legitimacy beliefs. These findings suggest that policy makers can address legitimacy deficits by strengthening majority representation, which will have both egotropic and sociotropic effects.
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What are the effects on public support for the European Union (EU) when a member state exits? We examine this question in the context of Britain's momentous decision to leave the EU. Combining analyses of the European Election Study 2019 and a unique survey-embedded experiment conducted in all member states, we analyse the effect of Brexit on support for membership among citizens in the EU-27. The experimental evidence shows that while information about the negative economic consequences of Brexit had no significant effect, positive information about Britain's sovereignty significantly increased optimism about leaving the EU. Our findings suggest that Brexit acts as a benchmark for citizens’ evaluations of EU membership across EU-27, and that it may not continue to act as a deterrent in the future.
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Scholars and policy makers debate whether elites and citizens hold different views of the legitimacy of international organizations (IOs). Until now, sparse data has limited our ability to establish such gaps and to formulate theories for explaining them. This article offers the first systematic comparative analysis of elite and citizen perceptions of the legitimacy of IOs. It examines legitimacy beliefs toward six key IOs, drawing on uniquely coordinated survey evidence from Brazil, Germany, the Philippines, Russia, and the United States. We find a notable elite–citizen gap for all six IOs, four of the five countries, and all of six different elite types. Developing an individual-level approach to legitimacy beliefs, we argue that this gap is driven by systematic differences between elites and citizens in characteristics that matter for attitudes toward IOs. Our findings suggest that deep-seated differences between elites and general publics may present major challenges for democratic and effective international cooperation.
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The European Union is an unprecedented unification project that successfully preserves political peace and integrates Europe’s countries into a supra-national model. However, recent economic and political crises have shown that there are institutional problems that have undermined the EU and lost the trust of many citizens. In Italy after the ‘political earthquake’ of the 2013 national elections, the party system suffered a further shock in 2018 with the consolidation of the centre-right and Five Star Movement as the main competing political actors. In this context, the relationship with the EU has undergone numerous tensions, impacting directly on Italian public opinion and its perception of European institutions. This paper investigates whether and how the ‘exit’ issue from the EU affects Italian citizens, particularly how they react to a UK-style hypothetical referendum on leaving the EU. By analysing a 2019 voter study, it tries to identify clusters of Italian citizens by their attitude to European policies and a possible EU referendum.
Article
This paper assesses some of the factors that influence the public's geopolitical preferences in the Association Agreement countries. Specifically, I test the winners and losers theory, according to which individuals with higher chances of success in a particular society (winners) tend to support EU membership than those with lower chances (losers). In addition, I explore the influence of political engagement, future migration preferences and political values on this support. Departing from the conception of geopolitical preferences in the AA countries as a dichotomy between supporters of the EAEU (Easternizers) and supporters of the EU (Westernizers), I adopt a four-fold classification that also considers the individuals who support both (Balancers) and neither (Isolationists). Drawing on survey data from Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine (2015-2019), I find similar patterns of effects for the winners and losers variables across the three countries, with winners more likely to be Westernizers and losers more likely to be Easternizers or Isolationists. Moreover, politically engaged individuals tend to be Balancers and Westernizers, while disengaged individuals show support for the Isolationist option. Values are a significant predictor for Balancers and Westernizers, since preferring liberal values has a positive effect on being a Westernizer and negative on being a Balancer.
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Elites are central in creating, operating, defending and contesting international organisations (IOs), but little research is available about their attitudes toward these bodies. To address this gap, this article offers the first systematic and comparative analysis of elite perceptions of IO legitimacy. Building on a unique multi-country and multi-sector survey of 860 elites undertaken in 2017–19, we map and explain elite legitimacy beliefs toward three key IOs in different issue-areas: the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Integrating public opinion research and international relations theory, the article advances an explanation of elites’ legitimacy beliefs that emphasises their satisfaction with the institutional qualities of IOs. We contrast this argument with three common alternative explanations, which respectively highlight utilitarian calculation, global orientation and domestic cues. The analyses show that elites’ satisfaction with institutional qualities of IOs is most consistently related to legitimacy beliefs: when elites are more satisfied with democracy, effectiveness and fairness in IOs, they also regard these IOs as more legitimate. These findings suggest that the prevailing debate between utilitarian calculation, global orientation and domestic cues approaches neglects the importance of institutional satisfaction as an explanation of attitudes toward IOs.
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For national publics, terrorism is today one of the key policy challenges facing European governments. Yet little is known about whether and how the objective national economic, societal and political context influences public opinion about terrorism. The present article addresses this gap in the current research. Using Eurobarometer data, it is demonstrated that excluding a nation’s level of terrorism, no other objective national economic, societal or political indicator sways public attitudes towards terrorism. Objective national economic, societal and political factors are also found not to impact on the relationship between citizens’ economic conditions and public attitudes towards the same. Our results finally demonstrate that people’s perceived economic, cultural and physical (safety) insecurities tend to be a stronger predictor of these attitudes than the objective national context or (social) class differences. The article then discusses the implications of these findings.
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