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Erroneous European Jitters? A Pathway for Moderating the Extremes

Ocepek, Anthony (2022) Erroneous European Jitters? A Pathway for Moderating the Extremes. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The increasing electoral success of euroskeptic parties in Europe is perceived as a potential stumbling block for the region’s commitment to liberal democracy as they often advocate for more extreme policy positions. However, what are the chances that the euroskeptic parties instead moderates these positions over time? This study proposes different pathways towards moderation down which these parties travel as they expand their political representation in various levels of governance. One pathway examines the role of participation in their nation’s governing coalition, another their participation in supranational institutions such as the European Parliament (EP). Additionally, the study examines how any potential moderation resulting from these pathways influences voter behavior, whether they vote for or turn away from the moderating party. Using party manifestos for national and EP elections from the 1980s through 2010s, the results indicate some support for the moderating effect of membership in the governing coalition through features such as types of cabinet portfolios awarded to the party. The supranational pathway and the effect of moderation on voters, however, demonstrates an opposite relationship. There is scant evidence that participation in the EP results in more moderated positions, and instead results in more extreme policy positions expressed by the euroskeptic party. Moreover, voters are increasingly drawn and switch their votes to the euroskeptic parties when they campaign on more extreme policy positions, while existing euroskeptic party voters abstain their votes for the party when the party expresses more moderated positions. Taken together, the results of the study show that it is more advantageous for the euroskeptic party to remain outside of the governing coalition and maintain more extreme policy positions to attract new voters and minimize losses from their current voters. This is problematic as this suggests that concerns over the rise of illiberal policies in Europe and a shift away from long existing liberal norms and practices even by the mainstream parties as they attempt to catch up with the euroskeptic parties and take back voters, is likely to increase soon.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Ocepek, Anthonyano38@pitt.eduano380000-0003-4847-7847
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairSpoon,
Committee MemberPeters, B.
Committee MemberHays, Jude
Committee MemberRinge,
Date: 12 October 2022
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 14 July 2022
Approval Date: 12 October 2022
Submission Date: 27 July 2022
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 306
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Political Science
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: European politics, party politics, voter behavior, euroskepticism
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2022 15:56
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2022 15:56

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