What ‘Moves’ Party Systems in Times of Crisis?

Economic Conditions, Public Opinion and Party Competition on European Integration
Part of the Politische Vierteljahresschrift Sonderhefte book series (PVS)


The Euro crisis has considerably altered party competition across Europe. By adopting a party-system perspective this contribution analyses to what extent the Euro crisis has ‘moved’ party systems to more Eurosceptic positions and whether it has affected the systemic salience of the European integration issue. We argue that worsening economic conditions have directly affected party competition on European integration, but that party systems have additionally adapted to a more Eurosceptic public opinion in many EU member states. Connecting national parties’ election manifestos for European Parliament elections to survey data and macro-economic indicators, our empirical analysis shows that changes in party competition on European integration in EU member states between 2009 and 2014 can be explained by both factors. In the economically most affected countries, party systems have become more Eurosceptic—both as a direct reaction to economic hardship and as an indirect response to an increased public dissatisfaction with the regime of the EU. Moreover, an increase in the systemic salience of the European integration issue has occurred mainly in creditor countries, where the public has become more Eurosceptic regarding the idea and the continuing process of European unification.


Euro crisis Party competition Party systems European integration Public opinion 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ludwig-Maximilians-University of MunichMunichGermany
  2. 2.University of Münster (WWU)MünsterGermany

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