Acta Politica

, Volume 47, Issue 4, pp 378–399 | Cite as

A hidden giant? Exploring the centrifugal dynamics of attitudes towards the European unification

  • Elias Dinas
  • Sergi Pardos-Prado
Original Article


The existing empirical findings regarding the electoral impact of the European Union in national politics have failed to come up with an unambiguous conclusion. This lack of consensus has given rise to the contested argument that the EU is a potentially relevant issue not yet ‘awaked’ – the ‘sleeping giant’ metaphor. Nevertheless, in none of these studies has there been any attempt to investigate not whether but rather how this issue manifests itself in vote choice. In trying to fulfil this gap, we examine the EU issue under a spatial perspective focusing on the distinction between proximity and directional voting. Comparing it with the classic left-right dimension, we show that the EU evokes a more directional way of thinking about parties’ stances, rewarding those parties able to overcome the lack of differentiation in the centre of the spectrum and to present clearer alternatives.


spatial voting European Union proximity theory directional theory systemic polarization 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elias Dinas
    • 1
  • Sergi Pardos-Prado
    • 1
  1. 1.Nuffield College, Oxford UniversityOxfordUK

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