Norway is the only country which has turned down EU membership in two popular referenda. It occupies a unique place in the study of Euroscepticism due to its population’s stable and persistent misgivings about European integration. The thesis seeks to find out what Norwegian Euroscepticism really is and how it can be explained. Adopting a theoretical framework drawn from the Norwegian and comparative literature on EU support and a sequential exploratory mixed methods research design, the thesis first examines how the Norwegian Eurosceptic discourse has played out in a major national newspaper and the party political arena in the last fifty years, through the three periods of heightened Euroscepticism (1961-62; 1970-72; 1989-1994) and one period of latent Euroscepticism (1995-2010). Subsequently, the results of the qualitative analysis are tested on the 1994 Referendum Study to ascertain whether the issues mobilized in the public debate do indeed resonate on the popular level. The thesis finds that there are essentially two broad types of Norwegian Euroscepticism, mainstream (centre/left) and right-wing Euroscepticism. It argues that concerns about postmaterialist Values, political Culture and Rural society (VCR) are at the heart of mainstream Norwegian Euroscepticism, that values (the desire to make Norway and the world a better place), political culture (selfdetermination) and rural attachment are much more potent explanations for the phenomenon than economic interest (wanting to make Norway a richer place) or national identity concerns. Right-wing Euroscepticism, however, has an altogether different structure. Although it shares the political culture element with its mainstream counterpart, it does not exhibit postmaterialist or rural society sentiments. Conversely, it is driven by economic utilitarianism and the view that the EU is not sufficiently neo-liberalist. The findings also suggest that perceived cultural threat might be relevant to right-wing Euroscepticism, but this is an issue which must be investigated further by future research.
|Date of Award||1 Jan 2011|
|Supervisor||Richard Whitman (Supervisor) & Susan Milner (Supervisor)|
- public opinion