Party Competition, Corruption and Electoral Behaviour in the new EU Member States
Title: Party Competition, Corruption and Electoral Behaviour in the new EU Member States
Author: ZAPRYANOVA, Galina
Series/Report no.: EUI MWP; 2011/21
What accounts for the electoral successes of Eurosceptic and populist political parties in Central and East Europe? Citizens in the region have expressed their support for these types of parties in recent elections while, at the same time, aggregate levels of support for EU membership and trust in EU institutions remain high. EU-centered explanations for the growing popularity of these parties have focused on the dissatisfaction of citizens with specific aspects of European integration such as economic reforms, perceived loss of sovereignty or the strict requirements regarding protection of minorities. This paper proposes an alternative causal explanation by establishing a relationship between perceptions of domestic political corruption, mainstream party convergence and citizens’ growing support for populist and Eurosceptic parties. By choosing to support these parties citizens in the region are, in fact, casting a protest vote against domestic political elites. A public opinion survey from Bulgaria and the Czech Republic is utilized to test these hypotheses. Results suggest that perceptions of political corruption and the similarity of mainstream political parties play a large role in determining vote choice.
Subject: Euroscepticism; Populism; EU membership; Voting choice; Corruption
Type of Access: openAccess