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European public opinion in times of crisis

Title European public opinion in times of crisis
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsJean-Benoit, Pilet, and Sudulich Laura
Conference Name3rd European Conference on Comparative Electoral Research
Keywordscrisis, Europe

A large number of European countries are experiencing a protracted economic crisis. Empirical evidence on the effects of these unfavorable conditions on public opinion remains scarce. This paper examines whether the ongoing crisis affects public opinion towards the European Union. A classical distinction in the literature is between ‘hard’/economy-related and ‘soft’/cultural determinants of attitudes towards the EU. The guiding hypothesis in this article is that with the economic crisis we should expect ‘hard’ factors to become more important, and to outweigh ‘soft’ factors. And we expect that it would be particularly the case when it comes to economic EU policies like the Euro. We find that ‘hard’ factors are significantly affecting attitudes towards the EU, and especially towards the Euro. Yet, they do not cancel out the impact of ‘soft’ factors. On the contrary, ‘soft’ factors appear to be more powerful in explaining public support for the EU and even for the Euro. These findings indicate that the economic crisis may indeed increase the salience of the economic dimensions of European integration, but the EU remains mostly perceived in terms of (national) identity.

Pilet_Sudulich_March26.doc304.65 KB