Where Skeptics go to Party – EU-Positions of Factions in the European Parliament

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Eurosceptic tendencies have gained more traction than ever before: The successful Brexit-campaign came as a surprise both to supporters and to opponents. An openly anti-EU-faction is the third largest in the European Parliament. It seems that eurocritical niche-parties are gaining in popularity all over Europe, while mainstream parties appear to be paralyzed from shock about it. Previous research suggests that mainstream-parties react to shifts in public opinion, while niche-parties’ positions are influenced by their supporters. My study adapts this theory, along with ideas of responsible parties versus responsive parties, and applies both to factions in the European Parliament. To do so I consider two kinds of representation. My research finds that neither mainstream-factions nor niche-factions are very responsive to the public or supporters on the issue of European integration. However, Euroskepticism has increased among European electorates in recent years, thereby widening the representation gap for mainstream parties and lessening it for niche parties. It remains unclear the extent to which Euroskeptic parties have played a key role in mobilizing anti-EU sentiments.
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