Acta Politica

, Volume 42, Issue 2, pp 252–270

Varieties of Euroscepticism and Populist Mobilization: Transforming Attitudes from Mild Euroscepticism to Harsh Eurocynicism

  • André Krouwel
  • Koen Abts

DOI: 10.1057/palgrave.ap.5500187

Cite this article as:
Krouwel, A. & Abts, K. Acta Polit (2007) 42: 252. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ap.5500187


Eurosceptics may differ in intensity, and in their arguments for opposing the European Union (EU), by focusing their critiques on different political targets and/or aspects of Europeanization. The generic label of Euroscepticism may incorporate sceptical, cynical or oppositional attitudes. We try therefore to develop a two-dimensional conceptualization by combining both the targets and the degree of popular discontent towards the EU and European integration. The first axis differentiates between attitudes towards the authorities, the regime and the community, while the second axis differentiates attitudes according to their degree of reflexivity and negativism. Investigating simultaneously both dimensions of political discontent, we can chart different types of Euroscepticism on a sliding scale of political attitudes, which runs from trust, over scepticism to political distrust, cynicism and alienation. In the final section, we show how political entrepreneurs are able to tap into mass attitudes towards the EU and European integration. Given that most citizens do not have fixed views on Europe, populism is capable of feeding a downward spiral from Euroscepticism to more diffuse discontent like Eurocynicism.


EuroscepticismEuropean integrationpopulismpolitical attitudes

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan Ltd 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • André Krouwel
    • 1
  • Koen Abts
    • 2
  1. 1.Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Political ScienceAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Institute of Social and Political Opinion Research, Katholieke Universiteit LeuvenLeuvenBelgium