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ECPR Joint Sessions 2020 Sciences Po Toulouse

Europeanisation of Czech Eurooptimist Political Parties: A New Way of Explaining the Reasons for Euroscepticism?

Europe (Central and Eastern)
 
Comparative Politics
 
Political Leadership
 
Political Parties
 
Euroscepticism
 
Presenter
Vratislav Havlík
Masaryk University
Authors
Vratislav Havlík
Masaryk University

Abstract
The paper traces the low degree of political socialization of Czech citizens in European topics as a possible explanation of Czech public Euroscepticism. Based on findings about the crucial role of political parties on citizens` political attitudes, we argue that in order to fully understand both a country’s nature and the sources of its lack of trust in the European Union, it is necessary to complement the data about the key socializing agents, i.e. about pro-European political parties. Public Euroscepticism or the lack of pro-European attitudes among the public may be just as related to the presence of EU-critical discourse as to the absence of clear pro-European narratives of political parties. The main aim is thus to examine how important is the topic of European integration for pro-European political parties in the Czech Republic and in what context do they discuss the topic of European integration. Using a mixed method approach, we first employed a qualitative approach identifying underlying arguments behind European sentences and in a second step we quantitatively analyzed the relevance of EU issues for political parties by counting EU sentences in their election platforms. We conclude that Czech pro-European parties neglect the European issue in comparison to their Eurosceptic counterparts. Moreover, their European discourse is often reduced to material benefits of the membership while general support for European integration is lacking.
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