Recent research has shown the rise of domestic contention over European integration. This paper examines the extent to which preferences over European integration influence domestic party support in 19 European Union (EU) member states in West and East-Central Europe (ECE). The analysis finds broad evidence of EU issue voting across the countries included in the analysis, but the effect of the EU issue on party preferences is stronger in ECE. These results are consistent with the view that the same underlying causal dynamics explain party and voter behavior in both West and ECE, but the post-communist legacy shapes the political and economic contexts in the ECE states, resulting in predictable differences between the two regions.
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The countries that are not included are Belgium, Cyprus, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta and Sweden.
Vote propensities have been used successfully in other studies of voting behavior, and they have been found to correlate strongly with reported voting behavior (Oppenhuis, 1995; Tillie, 1995; van der Brug et al, 2007). See van der Eijk et al (2006) and van der Brug et al (2007, Chapter 2) for a further discussion of the advantages of this approach.
Note that the use of a ‘stacked’ data matrix procedure is by no means new. MacDonald et al (1991), for example, use this procedure to estimate the effect of directional vs proximity models of voting on party evaluation in much the same way as we do here.
Estimating the models separately on the cases from ECE and West Europe produced substantively identical results to those presented in Table 1, and EU Issue Proximity was positive and significant in both subsamples (though the coefficient was slightly stronger in the ECE countries).
Note that the overall explanatory power (that is, R2) of the regression model is somewhat weak. Two points are important to consider in this respect. First, the objective of this study is to explore the impact of EU attitudes on the vote rather than maximizing the explained variance in vote choice. Second, the weak explanatory power of the model is not unexpected as we estimate a model using solely individual-level predictors and only one country-level predictor (East vs West). A stacked data set allows for the inclusion of party- and country-level predictors to account for the variation at these levels (van der Eijk et al, 2006), but this is not the objective of this analysis.
The conditional coefficients are calculated based on the following formula (see Brambor et al, 2006): while the conditional standard errors are given by
The only two countries that held national level elections simultaneously with the EP elections – Lithuania and Luxembourg – were not included in our analysis due to lack of available survey data. Several countries held regional or local elections contemporaneously in all or parts of the country.
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Catherine E. de Vries acknowledges the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) for providing financial support for this research (VENI GRANT 451-08-001). Earlier versions of this paper were presented at the 2007 Meeting of the MPSA in Chicago and the 2007 ECPR General in Pisa. The authors would like to thank all participants for their input. Remaining errors are the sole responsibility of the authors.
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de Vries, C., Tillman, E. European Union issue voting in East and West Europe: The role of political context. Comp Eur Polit 9, 1–17 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1057/cep.2009.7
- elections, voting behavior, European integration, East-Central Europe, West Europe