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Determinants of public support for EU membership: Data from the Baltic countries

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European Journal of Political Research

Abstract

Focusing on individual-level determinants of public support for EU membership, this paper brings the literature on Western European integration to bear on the Eastern and Central European accession. Existing theories have focused on utilitarian expectations, political values, and domestic politics as determinants of public attitudes toward European integration. The paper discusses the applicability of the proposed theories and measures in the Eastern European context and develops a model that identifies micro-level economicexpectations, support for democratic norms, trust in the national government, and perceptions of ethnic tension as possible determinants of public support for EU membership. These propositions are tested with survey data from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, using logistic regression. The results lend strong support to the expected gains and domestic politics hypotheses but suggest that individual competitiveness, a frequently used proxy for economic expectations, may be a poor predictor of attitudes toward the EU in the CEE context. Perceptions of increased ethnic tensions were found to decrease minority supportfor EU membership in Latvia, the Baltic country that has pursued particularly stringent citizenship and minority policies. Identification with democratic norms did not influence opinions in Latvia and Estonia, while having an unexpected negative effect on the attitudes of the Lithuanian public.

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Ehin, P. Determinants of public support for EU membership: Data from the Baltic countries. European Journal of Political Research 40, 31–56 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1011818717816

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