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Acta Politica

, Volume 47, Issue 2, pp 181–209 | Cite as

Europeanization and the unravelling of Belgium: A comparative analysis of party strategies

  • Paolo Dardanelli
Original Article

Abstract

Research on Europeanization has greatly deepened our understanding of the domestic impact of European integration but has largely neglected the question of the extent to which it has influenced domestic politics in relation to state reform. The article addresses this question by investigating the case of Belgium, which has experienced the deepest process of state reform and at the same time has been the most exposed to Europeanization. It explores the connections between the two through a qualitative comparative analysis of the degree to which political parties have exploited the European dimension in their rhetorical strategies on state reform, with focus on three key time points. The results paint a contrasting picture. On the one hand, the degree of Europeanization has been limited at each point in time and largely stable over time. On the other hand, the VU/N-VA stands out as a major exception for its consistent – and growing – exploitation of the European dimension. The analysis shows that constitutional preferences, importance of the constitutional question and attitudes to integration are the key factors explaining the patterns observed. These findings call for deeper theorization of the domestic impact of integration and point to avenues for further comparative analysis.

Keywords

Europeanization European integration Belgium federalism parties 

Notes

Acknowledgements

I wish to thank the James Madison Trust for generously funding this research project, and Tom Vandenkendelaere and Marloes van Hooijdonk for their excellent research assistance. I am grateful to Hélène Michel for her friendship and hospitality, and to Andy Wroe, Ben Seyd and the journal referees for their very helpful comments on previous versions of the article. I am also grateful to Paul Delforge, Frank Delmartino, Kris Deschouwer, Lieven de Winter, Franz Fallend, Bruno Hopp, Caroline Sägesser, Andrea Volkens, and the staff of the party archives listed below, who offered precious help and advice.

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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paolo Dardanelli
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Federal Studies, School of Politics and International Relations, University of Kent, Giles LaneCanterburyUK

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