The impact of Eurosceptic challenger parties of the left and right on party competition over Europe
In the early years of the twenty-first century, the European Union (EU) was heavily affected by a multi-faceted crisis. This led to important transformations in the field of EU politics, such as a higher proportion of votes for Eurosceptic parties in recent elections to the European Parliament (EP) and increasingly anti-EU stances of political parties. Against the background of these tendencies, this chapter investigates in which way Eurosceptic challenger parties of the left and the right affect the character and substance of EP elections. In doing this, we study changes of party policy proposals in EP elections, i.e. the supply side of Eurosceptic politics. The chapter discusses how the rise of Eurosceptic challenger parties has affected party competition over Europe and here in particular the positions of traditionally pro-European parties. Using Euromanifesto (EM) data we explore how European issues – about the EU polity as a whole, and its economic and immigration policies – are emphasized in the electoral platforms of European parties. The empirical analysis proceeds as follows: First, we map descriptively the salience of EU polity issues, EU economic policy issues, and EU immigration issues overall and per country. In a second step, we investigate whether changes in the salience or the position of mainstream parties towards the different types of EU issues are due to the rise of Eurosceptic challenger parties. Our findings show that mainstream parties respond to the appearance of those challenger parties. While the emphasis mainstream political parties put on EU issues is only slightly affected, Eurosceptic challenger parties clearly impact their stances towards EU immigration issues and EU economic issues.