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The Europeanization of German political parties: evidence from three parliament elections

Nicola Bücker
Philipps-Universität Marburg
Nicola Bücker
Philipps-Universität Marburg
Open Panel

Abstract

In recent years, several authors have pointed to an increasing Europeanization of national political parties, meaning that the EU and its policies and institutions become more salient for the domestic political competition, but also that national parties change their position towards European issues and often display more Eurosceptic attitudes (cf. Kritzinger and Michalowitz 2005; Baun et al. 2006; Kriesi 2007). Both assumptions are highly relevant for the further trajectory of the European Union: the former indicates the development of a truly “European political space” that would finally encounter the EU’s democratic deficit. The latter implies greater problems for the EU’s future, as Eurosceptic parties should rather refrain from any further steps of integration and might even aim at retransferring competences from the European to the national level. Against the background of rather mixed empirical evidence, this paper tests both hypotheses with regard to three recent parliament elections in Germany in 2002, 2005 and 2009. During this period, the EU has significantly widened and deepened and thereby considerably changed its outlook. In order to find out in how far the German political parties react to these changes, I conduct a content analysis of both election manifestos and public speeches of the most influential German parties. In doing so, I pay special attention to the different types of “Euroscepticism” that one should distinguish in order to gain a detailed picture of the parties’ stance on European issues. The analysis partly supports both assumptions mentioned above. At the same time, the evidence for a new “political cleavage” that Kriesi suggests along a new “structural conflict” between the winners and losers of European integration remains hybrid (Kriesi 2007: 85). References: Baun, Michael et al. (2006): The Europeanization of Czech Politics: The Political Parties and the EU Referendum, in: Journal of Common Market Studies 44 (2): 249-80. Kriesi, Hanspeter (2007): The Role of European Integration in National Election Campaigns, in: European Union Politics 8 (1): 83-108. Kritzinger, Sylvia/ Irina Michalowitz (2005): Party Position Changes Through EU Membership? The (non-)Europeanisation of Austrian, Finish and Swedish Political Parties, in: Politique européenne, 16: 21-53.