Daniela Braun, Sebastian Adrian Popa, Hermann Schmitt
Responding to the crisis: Eurosceptic parties of the left and right and their changing position towards the European Union

European Journal of Political Research, 2019: 58, Heft 3, S. 797-819
ISSN: 0304-4130 (print); 1475-6765 (online)

At the time of the election of the European Parliament (EP) in 2014, the European Union (EU) was heavily affected by a multifaceted crisis that had – and still has – far‐reaching implications for the political system of its member countries, but also for the European level of governance. Against the background of the strong Eurosceptic vote in the 2014 EP elections, this study aims to investigate in which way Eurosceptic parties of the left and the right respond to the multiple crises of the EU. Using data from the Euromanifesto Project from 2004/2009 and 2014, changes in the party positions towards the EU are analysed in the shadow of the multiple crises and the reasons thereof are explored. The findings show a general anti‐European shift among the two types of Eurosceptic parties. Nevertheless, the changes in the EU polity tone are not determined by issue‐based repercussions of the multiple crises, but by the EU‐related evaluation – the polity mood – of the national citizenry. For far‐right Eurosceptic parties, the shift is moderated by the level of public support for EU integration in their national environment. Among far‐left Eurosceptic parties, by contrast, it is moderated by the more specific public attitudes about the monetary union policy of the EU. Consequently, political parties when drafting their manifestos for EP elections are not so much guided by the objective severity of political problems or by the evaluations of these problems by the citizenry. What matters in the end is the link that citizens themselves are able to establish between the severity of political problems, on the one hand, and the responsibility of the EU for these problems on the other. This has important consequences for understanding of the nature and substance of political responsiveness within the EU system of multilevel governance.