Martin Gross
Sub-national party positions on European integration and EU cohesion policy: An exploratory analysis

3-Länder-Tagung "Regionalismus in einer entgrenzten Welt" der DVPW, ÖGPW und SVPW, Universität Heidelberg, 29. September bis 01. Oktober 2016

Citizens’ confidence in the problem-solving capacities of the European Union (EU) has been shaken during the severe economic and sovereign debt crisis in Europe. This casts doubt on the future of the European integration process. One key element of EU’s attempt to foster citizens’ identification with the EU has been (and still is) its cohesion policy (CP). This policy targets regions and cities across the EU with the overall goal of improving citizens’ quality of life. Since cohesion policy accounts for almost one-third of the total EU budget in 2014-20 it should attract the attention of political parties–both at the national and regional level–to promote and communicate this policy among citizens, in particular by referring to potentially financial benefits of several structural funds. Although there is data on national party positions on European integration and CP, it is surprising that there is no data available on sub-national party positions on either European integration or CP. This paper addresses this gap by extracting sub-national party positions on European integration and CP in several EU Member States by using ‘Wordscores’. Empirically, the results show that sub-national parties devote much more space in their manifestos to European integration than to CP. Yet, sub-national party positions on European integration and CP differ between countries, regions, parties, and vary even within party branches. Methodologically, the results show that ‘Wordscores’ is capable of locating sub-national parties on the policy dimensions of European integration and EU cohesion policy.