EU politicization through the lens of salience: How the EU enters the French, British and German electoral agenda (1986–2009)
GB : Palgrave Macmillan
143 - 168 p.
Issue competition, Salience, European Integration
Contestation over European integration, pauses and crises, as well as growing evidence of its political and social implications, has drawn scholars' attention to the question of the politicization of the European Union (EU) at the domestic level. This article argues in favour of complementing the existing literature on the spatial competition over EU-related issues with a study of the salience and diversity of these issues. We illustrate the potentialities of such an approach, drawing on the examples of French, British and German parliamentary parties between 1986 and 2009. Our study of electoral manifestos generates two main conclusions. First, as patterns of attention to Europe fluctuate considerably over time and tend to follow systemic dynamics, the resonance and political consequences of party discourses over integration will depend on the presence of political parties able and willing to push the EU onto the electoral agenda. Second, the EU gives rise to distinct issue emphases in each country and in each party, resulting from the 'domestication' of European debates by parties. This observation suggests that we should be cautious with regard to the location of domestic parties along a single, transnational dimension that opposes Europhiles and Eurosceptics, as the EU does not enter domestic agendas in the same form everywhere.