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Public opinion and foreign policy in Europe: A silent cry?

Ebru Canan Sokullu
Bahçesehir University
Ebru Canan Sokullu
Bahçesehir University
Ebru Canan Sokullu
Bahçesehir University
Open Panel

Abstract

This paper provides an in-depth and a longitudinal look at citizens’ attitudes towards contemporary foreign and security challenges in Europe in a comparative fashion (12 country comparison). It elaborates on European public opinion on key foreign and security challenges of the 21st century, such as the global war on terror, relations with Russia as an energy hub, challenge of Iran as a regime threat, China as a global economic giant, and the EU as a democracy and wealth promoter. It not only identifies the current state of art of comparative opinion patterns, but it also tries to investigate into the importance of mass public opinion on foreign policy-making in Europe in the past decade. Especially, in the post-Cold War era, security challenges have led to fundamental changes in academic research on the role of mass public attitudes to foreign policy. Taking up revisionist liberal notions of the ‘rational’ (Page and Shapiro 1992), ‘attentive’ (Krosnick 1988), ‘commonsensical’ (Popkin 1991) and ‘prudent and purposive’ (Jentleson 1992, Jentleson and Britton 1992) nature of public opinion and focusing on public opinion as an essential domino (Gelb 1972) of foreign policy making, this paper argues that in democracies decision makers are responsible to their public for the policy choices and actions. The paper provides an empirical investigation presenting a quantitative discussion of the data obtained from the Transatlantic Trends Surveys (2004-2009). This paper expects to contribute to the debate on the challenge to make cross-national inferences about the structure and importance of public opinion across Europe, concentrating on contemporary security challenges and trends in foreign policy.