Aaron Abbarno, Galina Zapryanova
Indirect Effects of Eurosceptic Messages on Citizen Attitudes toward Domestic Politics

Journal of Common Market Studies, 2013: 51, issue 4, pp. 581-597
ISSN: 0021-9886 (print); 1468-5965 (online)

Does criticism of the European Union (EU) by elites cultivate support for democratic values among ordinary citizens? All Eurosceptic messages are critical of European integration; they do not all vilify similar aspects of the European Union. This article proposes a framing model of the effects of Euroscepticism on citizens' domestic political attitudes. EU critiques that are framed in terms of ‘democratic deficit’ lead citizens to consider which political values are desirable in democratic society and may promote support for liberal democratic norms among citizens exposed to these messages. Eurosceptic rhetoric is built into framing experiments that vary the content of EU-critical messages. Subjects in the United Kingdom and Bulgaria are randomly exposed to a ‘cultural threat’ or ‘democratic deficit’ criticism of the EU. Both Eurosceptic frames reduce support for integration, but subjects exposed to the ‘deficit frame’ more strongly embrace liberal democratic values. Under certain conditions, Euroscepticism may carry benefits for representative democracy.