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Back for Revenge? Appraising Euroscepticism Before and After the 2008 Economic Debt Crisis

Political Parties
Southern Europe
European Union
Catarina Silva
CICP Center for Research in Political Science
Catarina Silva
CICP Center for Research in Political Science
Laura C. Ferreira-Pereira
MINHO, University of

The EU has been going through the deepest series of crises since its inception. After the Euro crisis, Greek crisis and Refugee crisis, the Brexit crisis has put the European integration process to the test. The successive terrorist attacks have raised further doubts about the EU’s capacity for safeguarding the security of its citizens. As a result, questions about its legitimacy and sustainability abound while the elites are confronted with the “failed Europeanization of the masses” (Majone, 2009) that has been fueling nationalism and galvanizing the Eurosceptic parties. This paper attempts to explain how Euroscepticism has varied since the beginning of the 1990s, when it was reified in the “differentiated integration” and was informed by a moderate anti-European integration stance which did not advocate the end of the EU. Ever since the economic crisis begun in 2008, Euroscepticism has developed into the backbone of an anti-EU narrative endorsed by the radical populist parties (RPPs) that urge for the demise of the EU. This paper argues that Euroscepticism should be analyzed against the backdrop of two phases: between 1992 and 2007 which marked the signing of the Treaties of Maastricht and Lisbon, respectively; and since the beginning of the economic crisis in 2008 to date. On the one hand, there is the pre-2008 crisis Euroscepticism based on a “cooperative contest” compatible with continued EU membership which was adopted by the mainstream parties and some moderate Eurosceptic parties. On the other, there is the post-2008 crisis Euroscepticism characterized by a “confrontational contest” designed to boost the anti-EU strategies of the RPPs. Thus, the economic crisis has created the political opportunity for the RPPs to infuse Euroscepticism with a virulent populist ethos, something which threatens the future of the EU, considering the growth of RPPs representatives in key institutions like the European Parliament.
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