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The paradox of nationalism: the common denominator of radical right and radical left Euroscepticism

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Publication details

JournalEuropean Journal of Political Research
DatePublished - Jun 2012
Issue number4
Number of pages36
Pages (from-to)504-539
Original languageEnglish


What can explain the strong Euroscepticism of radical parties of both the right and the left? This article argues that the answer lies in the paradoxical role of nationalism as a central element in both party families, motivating opposition towards European integration. Conventionally, the link between nationalism and Euroscepticism is understood solely as a prerogative of radical right-wing parties, whereas radical left-wing Euroscepticism is associated with opposition to the neoliberal character of the EU. The article contests this view. It argues that nationalism cuts across party lines and constitutes the common denominator of both radical right- and left-wing Euroscepticism. It adopts a mixed-methods approach combining intensive case-study analysis with quantitative analysis of party manifestos. First, it traces the link between nationalism and Euroscepticism in Greece and France in order to demonstrate the internal validity of the argument. It then undertakes a cross-country statistical estimation to assess the external validity of the argument and its generalisability across Europe.

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