The attitudes of political parties in Serbia and Croatia towards the European Union in comparative perspective

Stojic, Marko (2014) The attitudes of political parties in Serbia and Croatia towards the European Union in comparative perspective. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

The thesis examines how parties in Serbia and Croatia have responded to the significant challenges brought by European integration since 2000. It seeks to identify and categorise the broad, underlying stances on the substance of the European integration as expressed by relevant, parliamentary parties across both countries. The thesis also intends to discern the most important factors that determined the formation of their attitudes. It explores the interaction and effects of five explanatory variables: party ideology, party strategy, position within the party system, relations with electoral constituencies and socio-economic groups, and transnational and bilateral party linkages. As a qualitative comparative study, it draws on a qualitative content analysis of party programmatic documents as well as interviews with senior party officials, country experts and officials of the EU and European transnational parties. The thesis makes a major empirical contribution to our knowledge on party responses to Europe by looking systematically and comparatively at two under-researched cases. It also makes a more general theoretical contribution by using a new set of cases to test, amend and develop the literature on party positions on the EU.

The thesis found that party ideology and strategy were the most important drivers of parties’ attitudes towards the EU. Although Serbian and Croatian parties had generally loose ideological underpinnings, a party’s ideology was the single most important source of motivation for a response to Europe in the majority of these parties. This was due to the nature of European issues, closely related to identity and statehood issues, in the context of these post-communist and post-conflict societies. Additionally, due to the specific conditions pertaining to the political milieu of candidate countries, a number of former nationalist and Eurosceptic parties fundamentally shifted their long-term positions on the EU. This volte-face was a strategically driven response to internal and external incentives in the context of dynamic electoral competition and strong EU presence, and aimed at maximising their chances of securing executive office. Other factors generally proved to be of secondary importance since their effect was mostly mediated through party ideology and strategy.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Politics
Subjects: J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN0030 European Union. European Community. European communities
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN2202 Croatia
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN9600 Balkan States > JN9640 Serbia
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 02 Jun 2014 09:12
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2017 08:35
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/48633

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