The Effect of European Integration on National Elections in European Democracies

Open Access
Mahon, Michael P
Area of Honors:
Interdisciplinary in Economics and Political Science
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Sona Nadenichek Golder, Thesis Supervisor
  • Michael Barth Berkman, Honors Advisor
  • Russell Paul Chuderewicz, Honors Advisor
  • Europe
  • European Union
  • Integration
  • Economics
  • Political Science
  • Democracy
  • Political Economy
This thesis examines the relationship between the likelihood of incumbent reelection in European democracies and membership in the supranational organization now known as the European Union between 1949 and 2010. In doing so, it aims to find how European voters—through the lens of the European Union and Eurozone—look beyond their own borders in determining the successes and failures of their elected officeholders in order to determine better whether incumbents should be given a subsequent term in parliament and the government. Specifically, it looks to determine the relationship, if any, exists between economic integration with the European Union and the change in likelihood for incumbent reelections. After considering previous literature, this paper extends the theory that the increasing effects imposed by open economies on domestic conditions lessens the responsibility the electorate places in its democratic officeholders, thus making their reelection more likely even in the event of drastic economic downturn, to determine if the same process occurs through economic integration with the European Union. To do this, this study looks at changes in the unemployment rate and output over time as compared to electoral outcomes and analyzes these data statistically to determine the relationship they have with the history of incumbent reelection in European democracies from 1949 to 2010. Ultimately, I find that benchmarking, this looking across borders done by voters, has little effect on the chances of reelection over the study period when using membership in the European Union and the Eurozone as a lens for global comparisons.