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Why are traditionally pro-European nations following opposite courses in their public support for European integration? The case of Italian and Spanish

Open Panel

Abstract

Italian and Spanish public opinion have traditionally strongly supported European integration. The large majority of Italian and Spanish political parties and media are also strongly in favour of European integration. Yet, in the post-Maastricht period, these two traditionally pro-European nations have witnessed a divergent variation in public support for the EU: Italy experienced a significant decline in public support for the EU while Spain experienced a significant rise in the same. This paper empirically investigates the reasons for this variation in public support. Using eurobarometer data, our results demonstrate that political, economic and societal reasons explain this variance in public support for the EU. In the light of these findings, implications are drawn.