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The Europe of ElitesA Study into the Europeanness of Europe's Political and Economic Elites$

Heinrich Best, György Lengyel, and Luca Verzichelli

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199602315

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199602315.001.0001

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Party elites and the domestic discourse on the EU

Party elites and the domestic discourse on the EU

Chapter:
(p.192) 9 Party elites and the domestic discourse on the EU
Source:
The Europe of Elites
Author(s):

Nicolò Conti

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199602315.003.0009

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the attitudes of the party central office towards the EU through a study of their Euromanifestos. The analysis allows us to assess the level of congruence between the attitudes of this particular face of the party organization and those of the party public office holders as documented in the other chapters through a survey of MPs. Results of this comparison show that the structure of the European discourse of the party central office is different from that of MPs. While MPs’ attitudes are multidimensional, parties take a hierarchical stance towards the EU with its functional aspects of institutional capacity and policy making foremost, and with more symbolic elements of identity less salient. On the other hand, regarding the trajectory of the attitudes, the Euromanifesto data and the data on MPs are highly congruent.

Keywords:   attitudes, domestic discourse, Euroscepticism, Euromanifestos, party central office, party public office, identity, representation, scope of governance

9.1 Introduction

This volume documents at length the attitudes of domestic elites towards the role played by the EU in three constitutive dimensions of citizenship: identity, representation, and scope of governance. In the previous chapters of the book, all the analyses carried out by the authors have focused on the results of a survey of national members of parliament (MPs) and of economic actors. The MPs, however, not only represent an important segment of domestic political elites and decision makers; they also represent a primary component of party organization (Katz and Mair 1994), or to be more precise, they are the part of the party in public office. In order to make the picture more complete, in this chapter I document the attitudes of another face of party organization that is also composed of party elites, namely the party in central office. The different faces of party organization have traditionally been compared in organizational terms, giving birth to the paradigm of the ascendancy of the party public office (Katz and Mair 2002). However, assessing the level of congruence between the attitudes of the two faces is also a relevant problem, as revealed when the influence of institutional factors is taken into consideration. For example, the socialization of MPs by public institutions that are committed to implementing EU policies could make them more pro-EU compared to officers in party central office, who may not be so well socialized with EU affairs. Additionally, while Euromanifestos represent the official party line and the party as a unified whole, data on the individual positions of MPs is certainly more sensitive to eventual intra-party variations. It is also relevant to note that Best documents in this volume (see Chapter 10) how anti-Europeanness is relatively rare for the political elites of the member states, and that Cotta and (p.193) Russo confirm the same view in their chapter (Chapter 2). At the same time, however, Best as well as Müller, Jenny, and Ecker (Chapter 8) document how the attitudes of the masses towards the EU are more cautious than those of the political elites. So, what happens when we move the focus of the analysis from national MPs to the party central office, which is the face of party organization responsible for the communication with the electorate, in particular through dissemination and reiteration of the official party line by means of propaganda? Indeed, we can say that the central office works as a link between the party in public office and the party on the ground. Two other questions are pertinent here: what is the response of the party central office to the thoughts of the elites and the masses, and considering that masses seem to be much less pro-European than party elites, what are the pronouncements of the party central office on the EU?

The faces of party organization detailed above are indeed interconnected. Considering the disparity between MPs and public opinion in support of the EU, the central office may pool together either with the party in public office, the party on the ground, or take a position in between. Certainly, parties represent the opinions of the citizens but, to a large extent, they also help to shape such opinions (Neumann 1956; Ware 1996: 5). Particularly, in the context of the general empowering of party elites vis à vis the rank and file––a broad phenomenon often referred to by scholars (Katz and Mair 2002)––the role of the party elites as initiators of a normative stance on many issues, including the EU, should be considered carefully. Parties contribute to politicizing issues and, consequently, to mobilizing sentiments over such issues (Almond and Powell 1978) and this is true, for example, with regard to anti-EU politics (De Vries and Edwards 2009; Mudde 2007). Parties also make strategic calculations and come close to popular preferences in order to gain support from citizens.

What stance the party central office takes on the EU is the question addressed by the analyses carried out in this chapter. Similar to the analyses presented in the other chapters, in order to map party positions I will address the questions of if and how parties want the EU to develop. In particular, the empirical analyses will attempt to answer the following questions. How is the EU depicted in the member states by parties? Can the EU rely on wide party consensus for its institutional performance and involvement in policy making? Do projects of deeper integration find party support in the member states? Is there an identity issue that parties raise when they politicize the EU? Are these issues politically contested in the member states and, if so, what is the pattern of contestation they reflect? In the conclusion, I will discuss the level of congruence between the positions of the party in central office as analysed in this chapter and those of the MPs that have emerged in the other chapters of the book.

(p.194) 9.2 The Method

The empirical investigation presented in this chapter is based on content analysis of party Euromanifestos, a widespread technique in the study of party positions as is shown by the presence of large-scale research projects that use manifesto analysis for their investigations.1 These documents represent an extensive source of information with which to map the positions of parties across a large number of issues. Like the IntUne survey presented in the other chapters, manifestos refer to the national level since they are produced by domestic parties to contest elections for the European Parliament (EP). The platforms issued by the European party federations will not be considered. In addition, Euromanifestos do not have a focus as narrow or as specialized as other party documents (i.e. position papers on EU treaties or parliamentary debates); on the contrary, they are broad enough to represent an appropriate documentary source for the analysis of party preferences on the many faces of the EU process as studied by the IntUne project. Indeed, Euromanifestos can be considered a representation of the preferences of the party central office which, within the party organization, is the component usually responsible for issuing and disseminating these programmatic platforms. At the same time, Euromanifestos represent the stance of the party as a unitary whole, while the survey of MPs documents the subjective perceptions and preferences of national politicians. As already explained, it should not be assumed that Euromanifestos necessarily represent the attitudes of the party in public office, as the attitudes of this party component may be influenced by other (institutional) factors. For example, Hix et al. (2007) show that being in government leads parties to be more supportive of the EU and of institutions, such as the European Commission.

From the operational point of view, a team of country experts coded 298 Euromanifestos of fifteen EU member states.2 The available documents cover the period from 1979 to 2004 although the majority of them (243) actually date from 1994 to 2004. Unlike other research techniques, such as the expert survey, where party positions are mapped on the bases of the estimates of scholarly experts (Benoit and Laver 2006), here coders were asked to classify party positions only if explicitly expressed in the documents, i.e. only when positions could be referred to parts of the analysed texts. On the other hand, coders were asked not to associate parties to any position on the basis of their previous knowledge, but only on the basis of a text excerpt that could justify (p.195) their coding. They were also asked to insert the relevant excerpts in the project data set. The empirical evidence for party positions that I present in this chapter have therefore been searched and examined in such a way as to allow replicability and the highest levels of transparency for the coding process.

From the analytical point of view, in order to integrate my analysis into the general framework of the volume I examined party positions on issues of identity, representation, and scope of governance. The first step was to explore whether such issues were mentioned or not in the Euromanifestos. Then, where they were mentioned, I classified the positions expressed in the manifestos according to whether they expressed support for or opposition to the EU. Finally, I attempted to control variation in the party attitudes for ideology, incumbency in government, and other territorial factors. As these independent variables have been analysed in the other chapters with respect to the MPs, and so the results of the present chapter can be compared with those of the other chapters––with the exception of socio-demographic factors that are not applicable in this enquiry––the framework applied here duplicates that used for the other analyses of MPs. At the same time, the above-mentioned causal factors are also those most widely referred to in the literature on party attitudes towards the EU. Hence, the analysis presented in this chapter also aims at highlighting the high level of convergence between the theoretical foundations that inform research on the attitudes of parties and of political elites towards the EU. The sameness of the explanatory factors represents a main finding of the research in this volume and it shows that the party central office and the party in public office do not live in separate worlds; instead their attitudes tend to be influenced by the same determinants. I will give evidence to support this statement in the following sections.

The influence of ideology in shaping party attitudes to the EU is now a rather established argument in the literature. In particular, many scholars consider the pattern of opposing mainstream to radical parties as a main pattern of contestation of the EU (Szczerbiak and Taggart 2000, 2002; Taggart 1998; Szczerbiak and Taggart 2003), with the former parties supposedly expressing an underlying support for the EU, as opposed to the latter who express rejection. This theoretical argument is highly consistent with Best’s findings (Chapter 10, this volume) on MPs. At the same time, evidence of an ideological divide on the EU, although of lesser magnitude, has also been found along the division between left and right (Gabel and Hix 2004; Hix 2002; Hix and Lord 1997; Hix and Noury 2006; Hooghe et al. 2002, 2004; Ladrech 2000; Marks et al. 1999; Marks and Steenbergen 2002, 2004; Ray 1999; Tsebelis and Garrett 2000), with left parties described as more pro-European than right parties, particularly since the 1990s. This theoretical argument is consistent with the findings of several other analyses of MPs presented in this volume. Specifically, (p.196) Cotta and Russo (Chapter 2) show that Euro federalists are mainly left-wing while Eurosceptics and Euro minimalists are more right-wing. Real-Dato, Göncz, and Lengyel (Chapter 4) found that leftist positions are associated with more positive attitudes towards the EU and with deeper integration. Matonyte and Morkevicius (Chapter 5) found that the left–right self-placement of the MPs is a powerful predictor of the threats they perceive towards a cohesive Europe. Gaxie and Hubé (Chapter 6) document the way that European integration is mainly supported by political elites of left and centre-left political views, who also express a greater trust for the EU institutions.

Although being in government or in opposition has been hypothesized to have some influence on party attitudes towards the EU (Sitter 2001: 202), except in the case of some limited empirical attempts (Hooghe et al. 2004), the impact of governmental incumbency has until recently never been tested on a large scale. Hix et al. (2007), who produced the first systematic analysis of the impact of such factors, reached the conclusion that government incumbency exerts a moderate influence on party attitudes to the EU, although one that is much less significant than ideology. In this volume, Müller, Jenny, and Ecker (Chapter 8) also document some limited influence of government incumbency on the attitudes of MPs towards the EU.

Finally, some recent studies have shown the impact of territorial factors on these attitudes, such as the division between old and new member states (Lewis 2008) or the distinction between more and less liberal national economic systems (Marks 2004). As to the division between old and new member states, in their analysis of MPs, Cotta and Russo refer to the member states of Central and Eastern Europe as the most Eurosceptic and describe Europeanness as more widespread in Western Europe. The findings of Real-Dato, Göncz, and Lengyel on policy delegation lead in the same direction: recent member states are more nation-minded and less prone to support the Europeanization of several policies. Moreover, a major argument introduced by Marks (2004) to refine the theory of the instrumentalist approach to the EU (Marks 1998) is that the nature of the domestic economic system also influences party attitudes. It is an argument, however, that has not yet been tested empirically. The analysis in this chapter will attempt to fill this gap and to assess whether the nature of the domestic economic system really contributes to shape party attitudes towards the EU.

In the analysis, I adopt a comprehensive approach aimed at testing the validity of each of the explanatory factors outlined earlier. This is in order to assess the relative explanatory power of each factor and the validity of the related theoretical arguments for the explanation of party attitudes towards the EU. Throughout the text, I also compare my findings with those of the other chapters that resulted from an analysis of MPs.

(p.197) 9.3 The Analysis

9.3.1 Identity

Following the multidimensional nature of the investigations presented in this book, in this section I explore problems of identity, while the following sections focus, respectively, on representation and scope of governance. The first finding for the dimension of identity certainly concerns the limited salience found in the Euromanifestos. In particular, even the most recurrent variables of this domain have only a limited occurrence in the Euromanifestos, especially if compared to the other two dimensions (Table 9.1). Thus, we can argue that themes of identity are overall not very salient in the party discourse on Europe. The fact that most observations are about ‘no salience’ ultimately produces a picture of little variation among cases. The low salience of themes related to identity also reduces the ability to infer any possible cause of variation. For instance, contrary to the other dimensions, I found no statistically significant values for any logistic regression performed using the factors presented in the previous section. At first glance, this evidence contradicts the argument of Hooghe and Marks (2008) that the public discourse on Europe is increasingly framed under the dimension of identity.

It should be noted that references to themes such as a common European culture, values, history, or traditions in the Euromanifestos of mainstream (54 per cent) and radical parties (43 per cent) are still considerable. However, they are less recurrent than one may expect, especially when one considers that the survey of MPs showed that the supranational community has generated diffuse feelings of affection. Indeed, a very large majority within national elites declares an attachment to Europe, even when this affection is at a disadvantage compared to other communities, in particular the national one (see Cotta and Russo, this volume). So, when asked, political elites declare

Table 9.1. Salience of selected themes in the Euromanifestos (N = 298)

Mentioned in % of Euromanifestos

All parties

Mainstream parties

Radical parties

Representation

EU decision making

70.1

69.1

74.1

Scope of governance

Foreign policy

71.3

71.2

71.9

Defence policy

71.4

72.9

65.5

Justice and Home Affairs

50

50.4

48.3

Immigration policy

51.7

50

58.6

Identity

National identity

35

30.1

55.2

European culture

52

54.2

43.1

(p.198) their affection for Europe, but this feeling does not translate into a normative stance in the party propaganda and discourse. Furthermore, the theme of European culture is more recurrent in the Euromanifestos of the new member states (62 per cent) than in those of the old member states (53 per cent). It is to be seen to what extent this reference to a sort of European ‘civilization’ or ‘meta-culture’ (Mudde 2007: 169), often depicted by parties as a cultural heritage actually preceding the EU, translates into an idea of European identity that could justify, for example, the development of a genuine European citizenship. Alternatively, it remains to be seen whether this is mostly an attempt to differentiate the in-group of Europeans from the out-group of ‘others’.

In fact, national identity3 is also more salient in the new member states (it occurs in 46 per cent of Euromanifestos of mainstream parties and in 83 per cent of radical parties) than in the old member states (salient in 27 per cent of Euromanifestos of mainstream and 52 per cent of radical parties). As argued by Cotta and Russo (Chapter 2, this volume), attachment to Europe is highest among those with stronger feelings of affection for their country, and the Euromanifesto analysis confirms this argument. Indeed, references to European culture are also more recurrent in the new member states, where the defence of national identity is a strong element in the discourse of parties, whereas in the old member states the theme of national identity is mainly confined to radical parties. Best (Chapter 10, this volume) offers a specification of this point when he says that with reference to identity, Europeanness sometimes appears in implausible and contradictory combinations. He argues that it is a particularly attractive solution for the new member states of Central and Eastern Europe to refer to the European culture and values in order to promote national sovereignty. In the end, the evidence may suggest that a concurrent emphasis on European culture and national identity––particularly in the new member states––primarily represents an attempt to mark the distance of own country/nation from the out-group of non-Europeans, more than being a genuine devotion to the EU and to its attempts to build a European citizenship rooted in a set of EU-led values. In particular, as argued by Mudde (2007), radical right parties do not make reference to the European meta-culture in order to challenge the independence of European nations, but rather to mark the distance from the supposed non-Europeans. The same explanation could also be applied to the new member states, since in these countries the perception of external threats is stronger than in the old member states (Matonytė and Morkevičius Chapter 5, this volume).

We have seen that, although relevant for citizenship, identity is not a very salient theme in the European discourse of domestic parties, in particular of (p.199) mainstream parties. At least, it is not so relevant in the party discourse addressed to the electorate and framed in the Euromanifestos. On the other hand, references to national identity often outweigh or overlap with references to European culture. As a matter of fact, we could clearly identify the advocates of national identity––radical parties in all EU countries and most parties in the new member states––while the concept of European identity seems to lack purpose on the side of mainstream parties, especially in the old member states. These results concur with the argument of Hooghe and Marks (2008) on the mounting salience of identity in public discourse on the EU, an assertion that can be confirmed for the new member states (in that it has increased since their accession) and for radical parties. Furthermore, results confirm the findings of Best (Chapter 10, this volume) on the peculiar nature of the discourse of the new member states. Ultimately, the concept of a distinctive European identity does not seem to exist in the discourse of the parties we surveyed, except in the form of a threat from non-Europeans to national identity and to European civilization. Likewise, references to the theme of European identity are often inserted in stories of moral panic and of defence from outside enemies, sometimes in an openly xenophobic fashion.

9.3.2 Representation

So far, I have focused on the symbolic face of the EU and have found that this face has only limited salience, in particular with the national introverted character of radical parties and parties in the new member states. The analysis now moves to a domain that differs deeply from the one considered above, since it concerns representation and the institutional functioning of the EU. The main interest with respect to this dimension was to understand exactly what constitutes the preferred mode of EU decision making in the view of political parties. In particular, the aim was to assess whether parties are more supportive of the extension of majority voting, and therefore whether they want to empower the supranational level of decision making, or whether they favour the intergovernmental mode of decision making and the veto power of the member states instead. This is certainly a crucial aspect in the debate on the future of the EU and about its authoritativeness in the multilevel system of governance. It is a theme that finds an empirical equivalent in the questions asked in the elite survey concerning the preferred role for the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the member states. In Chapter 2 of this volume, Cotta and Russo show that, among national MPs, a large majority continues to defend the role of states, and only a minority is ready to accept a transformation of the Commission into a true government of the Union, although they are open to accept increased powers for the European Parliament. I now test whether the same holds true with reference to the (p.200)

Table 9.2. Logistic regression for ‘EU decision making: intergovernmental or supranational?’

Independent variables

EU decision making

In opposition/in government

Radical/mainstream

4.11***

Low/high economic freedom

0.37***

Left/right

0.78***

New/old member state

Constant

0.61

χ2

29.59

Sig.

0.000

Cox & Snell R2

0.12

N

298

Note: (***) statistically significant at 0.001. Only beta coefficients with p ≤ 0.05 shown.

positions expressed by parties in the Euromanifestos; in particular whether they also make a strong defence of the power of the member states. Table 9.2 shows the results of a logistic regression that documents the likelihood for Euromanifestos to express either a supranational or a sovereigntist stance with reference to this problem. In the regression model, I have included all the independent variables considered for the analysis: (1) the government/opposition status of a party at the time it issued the Euromanifesto; (2) the ideological nature of mainstream/radical4 parties; (3) parties left–right positions; (4) the level of economic freedom of the Euromanifesto country according to an index used by the International Monetary Fund;5 and (5) the status of old/new member state of the Euromanifesto country. The dependent variable in Table 9.2 is a dummy that classifies party positions in two categories: supranational6 or sovereigntist.7

We can observe in Table 9.2 that the only independent variables with a significant impact on party preference are the radical/mainstream nature of a party, the left–right ideology, and the level of economic freedom of the (p.201) Euromanifesto country. However, the last two factors have only a very limited impact, as is shown by the low beta values (0.37 and 0.78), so that their explanatory power is rather weak. On the other hand, being a radical or a mainstream party is the best predictor of party attitudes, as shown by the higher beta (4.11). Radical parties are four times more likely than mainstream parties to express a sovereigntist attitude with respect to the decision-making issue. The other two factors explain instead a change in likelihood that is very limited. As to the left–right distinction, the fact that the two extremes of the political spectrum tend to converge and to share Eurosceptical attitudes has certainly watered down the differences between them.

However, as discussed in the introductory section of this chapter, other studies show differences between left and right when extreme parties are excluded from the analysis. Moreover, breaking down the stance on the EU decision-making issue into more specific categories contributes to making these differences emerge. In Table 9.3, I have introduced these corrections to the model. I have also broken down the dependent variable (EU decision making) into more specific categories, and have excluded the radical parties from the analysis. I made use of a multinomial logistic regression model to calculate the likelihood of the different categories of the dependent variable compared to a reference category, controlling for left–right. I found that with respect to the reference category ‘re-nationalization of powers’, left and right show the same likelihood (7.20 and 7.33 respectively) to express instead a preference for majority voting. However, as the Exp(B) coefficients show, the right has an even greater likelihood (11) of making no reference to the problem––in particular, 56 per cent of the Euromanifestos of the Christian democrats do not make reference to the issue––or to prefer unanimity voting (8) as a mode of decision

Table 9.3. Multinomial logistic regression for ‘EU decision making’ by left–right (radical parties not included)

EU decision making

Exp(B)

No reference

Left

5.80***

Right

11***

Majority voting

Left

7.20***

Right

7.33***

Unanimity voting

Left

Right

8***

Mixed

Left

Right

8**

Reference category: re-nationalization of powers

χ2

95.03

Sig.

0.000

Cox & Snell R2

0.31

N

234

Note: (***) statistically significant at 0.001; (**) significant at 0.01. Only Exp(B)s with p ≤ 0.05 shown.

(p.202) making. The likelihood of the left to make no reference to the problem is more limited (5.80) and to prefer unanimity voting is non-significant. In this greater cautiousness, reticence even, of the right we can find the main difference with the left. Comparatively, the right is more internally divided, whereby all modes of EU decision making, including the exclusive intergovernmental mode, are advocated by its different national components. On the contrary, the preference for majority voting prevails within the left.

In the end, results show that it is the divide between mainstream and radical parties that better characterizes party contestation of one of the most controversial issues of representation in the EU, namely the issue of majority or unanimity voting. However, a more limited influence is also exerted by the left–right ideology, particularly when we exclude radical parties from the analysis. Socialists and liberals prove more open to the empowerment of the EU, as they favour majority voting more strongly than Christian democrats, conservatives, and nationalists. On the contrary, the other factors considered in the model produce almost no variation, or are simply not significant for the explanation of party positions.

9.3.3 Scope of Governance

I now move the focus of the analysis to another relevant aspect concerning the role of the EU in the multilevel system of governance: policy making. Specifically, I was interested to know whether parties express a supranational8 or a sovereigntist9 attitude in the case of some policies that still represent a privileged domain of the nation state. The policy themes analysed in the Euromanifestos find an empirical equivalent in the elite survey in similar questions about the preference for levels of responsibility in different policy domains.

I start the analysis of this dimension with foreign policy. In this dimension, I found confirmation of the fact that a party’s stance is strongly dependent on its radical or mainstream nature. As it is shown by the beta values, mainstream parties have greater likelihood (5.27) than radical parties to express a supranational, hence pro-European attitude in the Euromanifestos (Table 9.4). The status of old or new member state is also very significant. In particular, parties in the old member states are more likely (8.87) than parties in the new member states to express their favour for the EU-ization of foreign policy. It seems to be evidence of the fact that, beyond the well-known cases of the most sovereigntist old member states (such as the UK), the new member states also (p.203)

Table 9.4. Logistic regression for ‘Policies: national or supranational?’

Independent variables

Foreign policy

Defence policy

Justice and Home Affairs

Immigration

In opposition/in government

1.80*

Radical/mainstream

5.27***

8.87***

2.53***

2.10**

Low/high economic freedom

0.42**

Left/right

New/old member state

7.87***

7.47***

5.05***

2.78**

Constant

0.13

0.10

0.08

0.16

χ2

40.81

52.80

28.74

18.97

Sig.

0.000

0.000

0.000

0.002

Cox & Snell R2

0.16

0.20

0.12

0.08

N

298

298

298

298

Note: *** statistically significant at 0.001; ** significant at 0.01; * significant at 0.05. Only beta coefficients with p ≤ 0.05 shown.

represent a stronghold of opposition to deeper future integration, in particular as regards the second pillar of the EU.

Dropping radical parties from the analysis, I found no relevant difference this time between left and right. In particular, 73 per cent of Euromanifestos of the socialists support either the EU exclusive or the mixed national/EU competence in foreign policy, as well as 70.2 per cent of those of the Christian democrats and 75.6 per cent of those of the liberals. No major difference could be found among these three party families, even after breaking down results by EU exclusive and mixed national/EU competence. Conservative parties prove more pro-EU than would normally be expected when we think about the British Conservatives (52 per cent of conservative Euromanifestos support the shared national/EU competence in foreign policy; but support for the exclusive EU competence is much lower than for the above party families). This shows that, thanks to the stance of parties such as the Hungarian FIDESZ and the Italian National Alliance, conservatives in the member states are not necessarily confined to Euroscepticism.

We find confirmation of this tendency in the other constitutive policy of the second pillar of the EU, i.e. defence. Again, the radical/mainstream nature of a party and the status of old/new member state are the best predictors of party attitudes. The linearity displayed by causality reveals a clear pattern of contestation of the EU policies. Once more, mainstream parties are much more likely (8.87) to express more supranational attitudes in this domain than radical parties, and for parties in the old member states the likelihood is greater (7.47) than for parties in the new member states (Table 9.4). As could be expected, party attitudes in the two domains of foreign and defence policy overlap. Hence, the tendency of socialists, liberals, and Christian democrats to (p.204) voice their support for the involvement of the EU is also confirmed for defence. Between 70.9 per cent (socialists) and 75.7 per cent (Christian democrats) of their Euromanifestos express such views. However, when EU competence is considered exclusively, and not in combination with national competence, then Christian democrats are those most in favour of this option (51.4 per cent); socialists are more cautious (39.6 per cent) and liberals stand in between (45.9 per cent). Conservatives express a preference for the mixed national/EU competence (50 per cent) but are much less in favour of the exclusive supranational option (25 per cent). Overall, after dropping radical parties from the analysis, left and right parties tend again to balance their views. Finally, parties from countries with higher economic freedom are more likely to express EU positive attitudes in this domain, but here the relationship, although statistically significant, produces a much weaker effect, as is shown by the low beta (0.4).

Although foreign and security policy are not the same thing, it was logical to predict that attitudes with regard to these two policies would overlap. Now the analysis moves to what was the third pillar of the EU in order to see whether the same pattern of contestation found for the second pillar can also be confirmed here. Indeed, results show that party attitudes are not policy-specific but instead permeate many policy areas. In particular, in the policy domain of justice, the mainstream/radical party divide and the old/new member status of a country are again the best predictors of party attitudes (Table 9.4). This time, though, the strongest impact is made by a territorial factor, since parties in the old member states are more likely (5.05) to express a preference for supranational competence than parties in the new member states. Once more, mainstream parties are more likely (2.53) to take a stance in favour of supranational competence in this domain than radical parties, and government parties are more likely to do so (1.8) than opposition parties. Once again, only low intensity differences could be found between left and right after dropping radical parties from the analysis. In particular, breaking down preferences into more specific categories, I found that the Christian democrats express a preference for the exclusive EU competence more frequently (30.6 per cent) than socialists (23.4 per cent) and about as often as liberals (29.7 per cent), but definitely more often than conservatives (19.2 per cent).

To conclude my analysis, I examined immigration, a policy moved from the third to the first pillar of the EU after the Treaty of Amsterdam. This policy again confirms the pattern observed in the analysis of the other dependent variables examined in this section: party attitudes are shaped along the divisions between mainstream and radical parties on the one hand, and parties of the old and parties of the new member states on the other. As revealed by the beta values, mainstream parties (2.10) and parties of the old member states (2.78) are more likely than their counterparts to express positive attitudes (p.205) towards the involvement of the EU in the immigration policy (Table 9.4). Dropping radical parties from the analysis and breaking down party preferences into more specific categories shows that left and right tend overall to balance their views, although within these two poles the Euromanifestos of the liberals (37.8 per cent) and of the conservatives (34.6 per cent)10 show greater support for exclusive EU competence in immigration than those of the socialists (25.5 per cent) and of the Christian democrats (22.2 per cent). Overall, and surprisingly enough, although until the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty it was a policy of the first pillar, where decisions could be taken by majority vote, support of the national parties for the delegation of powers to the EU in immigration was more limited than for the other policies of the second and third pillars.

In the end, the analysis shows that in the member states there is a clear pattern of party contestation of the issue of the EU’s role in the multilevel system of governance. Indeed, there are parties that support the EU for its actual role and express preferences for its empowerment in their programmatic statements. It is possible to argue that these parties play an important function of legitimization of the EU within the member states. These are, mostly, mainstream parties and parties in the old member states. Conversely, the main source of opposition to the EU and to its empowerment comes from radical parties who propose some alternative options of exclusive or predominant national competence in policy making. Also, we found that parties in the new member states are on average more cautious about the role and future policy competences of the EU than parties in the old member states. Other factors pertaining to the left–right ideology or to national economic specificities have only a very limited impact on party attitudes to the EU, one that is actually much less linear and that could explain only small variations in party attitudes. If the role of radical parties in opposing Europe was rather well known (Szczerbiak and Taggart 2008), the analysis has shown that parties in the new member states may also constitute a bulk of resistance to deeper integration in the EU.

9.4 Conclusions

The results of the analysis presented in this chapter show that the structure of the European discourse of the party central office is different from the one that emerges through a survey of MPs presented in other chapters of this book. When interviewed, members of the national elites answer thoroughly the questions concerning the three dimensions of identity, representation, and (p.206) scope of governance. As a consequence, their conception and representation of the EU appears multidimensional. However, when parties frame their stance on the EU in the Euromanifestos, a clear hierarchy emerges. The EU is mostly represented in its functional aspects of institutional functioning and policy making, while the more symbolic elements of identity are clearly much less salient. Identity tends to be more salient in the party discourse only where external threats are perceived more strongly and defence of a European civilization overlaps with nationalism, as in the case of the new member states.

As to the direction of the attitudes, the Euromanifesto data and the data reported in the other chapters of the book based on a survey of MPs are highly congruent. The analyses also show that the supranational level of governance consisting of the EU institutions and policies is represented in different ways in the member states. The discourse of parties in the Euromanifestos of the old member states tends to be more benevolent towards the EU than in the new member states, where clear signs of Euroscepticism have emerged. In the old member states, the EU currently remains a matter of large consensus among mainstream parties, both left and right, while opposition to the EU belongs predominantly to radical parties. On the other hand, resistance to deeper integration is so widespread in the new member states as to also involve mainstream parties, particularly with respect to policy delegation, as Real-Dato, Göncz, and Lengyel also document in their chapter (this volume). These findings are highly consistent with those of other contributions, such as Best, and Cotta and Russo, in this volume. The fact that the same pattern is shown by findings based on different data sources––namely a survey of MPs and Euromanifestos––is certainly something that strengthens the reliability of these findings.

Radical parties tend to be left out of national governments, so that their opposition to the EU is less influential when developments of the EU are decided by intergovernmental mode, particularly through decisions taken by the European Council. Nevertheless, in this arena the role of mainstream parties from the new member states and their resistance to deeper integration could constitute a serious limitation to the empowerment of the EU. This is something that the advocates of deeper integration should take into serious consideration in order to avoid future blockades and deadlocks in the integration process. Furthermore, the opposition of radical parties to the EU can be very influential when decisions are taken through popular vote in referendums. Consistent with the other contributions in this volume, this chapter shows in comparative terms that if the escalation of a constraining ‘dissensus’ on the EU (Hooghe and Marks 2008) is really in place, it is driven by radical parties and, since 2004, by parties in the new member states.

A broad problem that was raised in this chapter concerns whether the party in central office is closer to the stance of the public office or to the party on the ground. The evidence generated by the analysis of Euromanifestos shows a (p.207) good fit between the positions of the central and the public offices. The broad consensus of moderate party families on the EU, in particular in the old member states, as opposed to the Euroscepticism of radical forces, is confirmed by the analysis carried out in this and the other chapters for both faces of party organization. This divide emerges even more clearly in the analysis of Euromanifestos where all parties are represented, whereas the survey of MPs does not include radicals from member states where they are not represented in parliament, possibly as a consequence of the electoral system.

The moderate influence of the left–right divide found for the MPs in several chapters of this book is not so relevant in the Euromanifestos. With the exclusion of radical parties, it is true that left parties are to some extent more in favour of majority voting and supranational decision making than right parties. In terms of policy preferences, if we consider only the main four party families (Christian democrats, socialists, liberals, and conservatives), left and right tend instead to balance their positions. Certainly, adding other smaller parties, such as nationalists and greens, would change the picture and make the left remarkably more pro-European than the right.

Finally, the influence of government incumbency on the stance expressed in the Euromanifestos is very limited; in particular, it is more limited than that found by Müller, Jenny, and Ecker (this volume) for MPs. This is evidence of the fact that the discourse of the central office, being addressed to the party rank and file, and more broadly to the citizens, tends to be more stable, more ideological, and more linear. It is also probably more repetitive and less influenced by the competition between government and opposition at the domestic level. Conversely, the stance of the party in public office is more strategic, and MPs are more sensitive to the influence of the costs and benefits offered by the position they occupy with respect to the national government.

On the whole, the stance of the party in central and in public office is highly congruent and often shaped by the same determinants. However, two factors (left–right and government incumbency) show a different influence on the stance of these two faces of party organization. Despite this difference, the central office remains overall very close to the stance of the public office on the EU, so the gap between parties and citizens found in the other chapters could also be confirmed with respect to the findings of this chapter. As the data from the Euromanifesto analysis are built on different metrics from those of the IntUne elite survey it is not possible to produce an exact measurement of such closeness/distance of the party central office to the public office and the party on the ground. However, the overlap between the positions of the party central office and those of the MPs is certainly considerable, to the point that one could argue that parties do not seem to follow popular preferences on the EU issues; rather, party elites seem to build their own preferences in relative isolation from the masses.

Notes:

(1) In particular, see the Comparative Manifestos Project (renamed Manifesto Research on Political Representation) of the Social Science Research Centre Berlin and the Euromanifesto Research Project of the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research that is part of the European Election Studies.

(2) The countries included in this analysis are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, and United Kingdom.

(3) This variable consists of reference to the national identity label or, more generally, to commonalities/similarities among the country’s citizens.

(4) Mainstream parties have been considered as those belonging to the following party families: Christian democrats, socialists, liberals, conservatives, regionalists (except the Italian Lega Nord), greens, and some other moderate parties following the indication of the country experts involved in the research. Communist, nationalists, extreme left, and extreme right parties have been considered radical.

(5) For the analysed countries, scores in this index vary from 1.7 (UK) to 2.8 (Greece) in a range from 1 to 4. The mean value is 2.29 (Portugal), so I have inserted all countries with higher score in the category of low economic freedom and those with a lower score in the category of high economic freedom. The following are the scores assigned by the IMF: UK (1.74), Estonia (1.75), Austria (1.95), Germany (1.96), Czech Republic (2.10), Belgium (2.11), Lithuania (2.14), Portugal (2.29), Spain (2.33), Slovakia (2.35), Hungary (2.44), Poland (2.49), Italy (2.50), France (2.51), and Greece (2.80).

(6) When a preference for decisions made by majority vote or mixed unanimity and majority vote is expressed in the Euromanifesto.

(7) When it is declared in a Euromanifesto that decision making should be kept central to member states and decisions in the EU made by unanimity. Also, when European institutions are severely criticized and asked to shift powers back to member states, or when it is declared that EU institutions should have solely advisory or implementation functions.

(8) When the supranational level of decision making is indicated––alone or in combination with the national or sub-national level––as the favourite level to be responsible for a given policy.

(9) When levels of decision making other than the supranational one are indicated as favourite for being responsible in a given policy.

(10) For the conservatives, this figure is related in particular to the positions of the Czech Civic Democratic Party, the Hungarian FIDESZ, and the Italian National Alliance.