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European identity and voting in the European Parliament elections: the effect of transnationalism in post-crisis EU-15

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posted on 03.09.2018, 11:33 authored by Ana Carrillo-López
The financial crisis of the Eurozone in 2008 has had major socio-political and demographic consequences. Since the 2008 recession, increasing numbers of Europeans have identified with Eurosceptic political parties, while their perception of EU institutions has steadily worsened. From a demographic perspective, the EU has also witnessed a significant increase in transnationalism (i.e. intra-EU mobility) from southern to northern European member-states (Lafleur and Stanek 2017). Despite the number of transnational Europeans steadily increasing since the 2000s, this phenomenon has not been sufficiently studied (Fligstein 2008; Kuhn 2015). Though the influence of transnationalism on European identity and voting behaviour has been investigated in the past (Day and Shaw 2002; Collard 2013; Favell 2008; Fligstein 2009; Favell et al. 2011; Kuhn 2015), the bulk of these studies have been rooted in specific disciplines, been predominately quantitative in nature and focused on data prior to the 2008 crisis. This thesis adds to past research by adopting an interdisciplinary, mixed-methods approach incorporating data of the EU-15 before and after the financial crash. More specifically, the mixed-methods design complements statistical analyses of Eurobarometer datasets (EU-15) with qualitative analysis of 58 interviews with transnational and non-transnational young Spaniards. Three main conclusions were derived from these analyses. First, transnationalism continues to have a positive effect on European identity. Second, transnationalism reduces the educational gap on European identity: lower educated transnationals feel more European than lower educated non-transnationals. Third, there is a trade-off to transnationalism: though it augments European identification, it also deters voting in the European elections. Previous explanations suggest that low voter turnout is a consequence of the second-nature of these types of elections. However, the in-depth interviews presented here shed light on this socio-political paradox, revealing that transnationals’ voting behaviour is strongly shaped by difficulties with electoral registration and other structural barriers.



Whitaker, Richard; Ramiro, Luis

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Department of Politics and International Relations

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University of Leicester

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