Europeanization of Czech Political Scene: Political Parties and Referendum on Approach to European Union
AbstractThe aim of this article is to analyse the attitudes of the main political parties in the Czech Republic towards the European Union. A special emphasis is put on the presentation of these attitudes in the pre-referendum period and on the levels of support for membership achieved among the parties' supporters. This topic is analysed through the theoretical lens of "europeanization", an approach which examines the impact on domestic (national) policies and political systems of EU policies and processes. This theoretical perspective is usually applied to current member states but has been increasingly extended to candidate countries in the pre-accession period as well. In the period after the first democratic elections of 1990, the "European" debate among Czech political parties has intensified and shifted from the clear initial "yes" to membership to more complex and qualitative questions. By the time of the national EU referendum, (June 2003) the impact of "europeanization" was manifested by the presence of a significant number of EU-related topics in the political parties' agenda. The authors have utilized a range of political geography, sociology, and political science methods to demonstrate a high correlation between the EU referendum results and the levels of the partisan support for the parties favouring membership in the EU. According to the available empirical data from various public opinion surveys, the support for membership among the voters of the Social Democratic Party (ČSSD), Civic Democratic Party (ODS), Christian Democratic Party (KDU-ČSL) and Freedom Union (US-DEU) ranged from 82 to 92 %. On the contrary, the position of the Communist Party (KSČM) was clearly the opposite. In addition to the political orientation of the voters, other factors which have influenced the voting results were examined. These included such factors as regional unemployment rate, education, wage levels as well as other political-geographical aspects.
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