Consociationalism, regional integration and vote choice: Northern Ireland and the 2009 European Parliament election – A research note
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- Garry, J. Acta Polit (2012) 47: 113. doi:10.1057/ap.2011.26
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Consociational institutional arrangements in deeply divided societies are often criticised for cementing the underlying conflict cleavage, encouraging the continued dominance of conflict-based party competition and voter behaviour and prohibiting the emergence of ‘normal’ (that is, non-conflict-based) dimensions of political competition. However, drawing on evidence from a post-election survey at the 2009 Northern Ireland election to the European Parliament, I find that EU issues determined intra-bloc vote choice (at least in the nationalist community). This suggests that there is potential for regional integration projects, such as the EU, to contribute to the ‘normalisation’ of politics in a consociational system by acting as the source of an externally generated dimension of political competition.