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Looks Can Be Deceiving: Explaining Euroscepticism in Central and East Europe

Zapryanova, Galina (2011) Looks Can Be Deceiving: Explaining Euroscepticism in Central and East Europe. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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In this dissertation I ask: What accounts for the emergence and electoral performance of Eurosceptic political parties in the domestic party systems of Central and East Europe (CEE)? Related to this question, I explore how the determinants of electoral Euroscepticism differ from those of genuine, value-based Euroscepticism in CEE. In explaining what drives political parties to adopt a Eurosceptic agenda, two potential causal factors can be identified. Eurosceptic parties can try to capture genuine anti-EU sentiments among voters or they can aim to strategically challenge mainstream political elites on a core issue - EU accession - that had grown to define mainstream policies. In the second case, opposition to the EU serves only as a signal to voters and is instrumental in capturing the segments of the population that have become dissatisfied with mainstream governments. Yet, a perception of "sameness" of the mainstream political parties does not automatically need to result in a protest vote. If citizens felt that the core political parties are performing satisfactorily, their convergence on a variety of issues might not have resulted in disenchantment with the political process. In Central and East Europe, however, mainstream political elites have continuously been charged with engaging in corrupt and dishonest behavior with disastrous consequences for the political system. Perceptions of widespread political corruption can thus serve as a trigger which, coupled with viewing mainstream parties as "all the same", intensifies the likelihood that voters would choose a Eurosceptic party as a form of electoral protest. I test my theory through a combination of statistical analysis and comparative case studies. I use an original random representative survey conducted in Bulgaria and the Czech Republic to test this dissertation's individual level hypotheses. At the country level, I use a longitudinal analysis of election results from all countries in Central and East Europe. Finally, I conduct in-depth case studies of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Estonia. Results support the main propositions of this study and confirm that perceptions of mainstream party similarity and political corruption are associated with a Eurosceptic vote.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairLinden, Ronaldlinden@pitt.eduLINDEN
Committee MemberSbragia, Albertasbragia@pitt.eduSBRAGIA
Committee MemberHeinisch,
Committee MemberMorgenstern, Scottsmorgens@pitt.eduSMORGENS
Date: 21 July 2011
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 15 December 2010
Approval Date: 21 July 2011
Submission Date: 20 April 2011
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
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: ; Central and East Europe; Europeanization; Euroscepticism; populism
Other ID:, etd-04202011-201131
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:39
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:41


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