Does the messenger matter? A comparison of the effects of Eurosceptic messages communicated by mainstream and radical right-wing parties on citizens’ EU attitudes

The fact that the European elections in 2014 resulted in an unprecedented success for Eurosceptic parties raises questions concerning the influence of political elites on citizens’ Euroscepticism. This paper examines whether Eurosceptic messages have a different impact when communicated by mainstream right-wing parties vs. their more radical counterparts. We do so using data from a survey experiment conducted in Germany in 2013. Our results show that Eurosceptic messages from mainstream parties significantly increase Euroscepticism among voters but that those effects are confined largely to “in”-partisans. Furthermore, when a message is effective among “out”-partisans, it is due to a combined effect of source and message credibility. This holds true for both mainstream and radical right parties suggesting that contrary to expectations, the former do not enjoy any advantage over the latter in terms of perceived credibility.