Divided but United: Explaining Nested Public Support for European Integration

Anders Ejrnæs, Mads Dagnis Jensen

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Academic and general interest in public support for European Integration is on the rise. Theoretically, the utilitarian, identity, reference, cue-taking and signalling models have been developed to explain this perplexing phenomenon. While these models have been tested, there is no comprehensive up-to-date account of how well they perform separately, relative to each other and across levels. Empirically, this study utilises a data set with 110,873 respondents from the European Social Survey. Methodologically, a multilevel model is used to address causal heterogeneity between levels. The study shows that ‘attitudes towards multiculturalism’ at the individual level and ‘corruption’ at the country level are the strongest predictors. When interacting levels within models, it is demonstrated that individual trust in the national political establishment is being moderated by the level of corruption in a country in influencing support for European integration. On this basis, two models are proposed, named the ‘saviour model’ and the ‘anti-establishment model’.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWest European Politics
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)1390-1419
Number of pages30
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019

Bibliographical note

Published online: 29. March 2019


  • Anti-establishment
  • Euroscepticism
  • European integration
  • European Union
  • Public opinion
  • Identity

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