'Dark matter': Institutional constraints and the failure of party-based euroscepticism in Germany

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Abstract

The article is built on four propositions. First, there is a latent potential within the German polity for the mobilisation of what remains a significant level of popular unease about aspects of the ongoing process of European integration. Second, at present this potential is unfulfilled and, as a result, Euroscepticism remains the ‘dark matter’ of German politics. Third, the absence of a clearly stated Eurosceptical agenda is not due to the inherent ‘enlightenment’ of the German political class about the European project, but rather is the result of systemic disincentives shaping the preferences of rational acting politicians. Finally, these systemic disincentives are to be found within the formal institutions of the German polity. The key ideas here are of ‘hard’ versus ‘soft’ Eurosceptical narratives, sustained versus heresthetic agendas, and ‘polis constraining’ versus ‘polis shaping’ strategies for their promotion. Political agents' choice of strategy depends on the nature of the institutional setting within which they are operating. The institutional configuration of the Federal Republic provides poor returns for party-based Euroscepticism. The mobilisation of popular unease about aspects of European integration remains an unattractive option for rational acting political agents.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244-267
Number of pages24
JournalPolitical Studies
Volume50
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2002

Keywords

  • Euroscepticism
  • Dark Matter
  • German politics

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