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Multidimensionality of EU attitudes in France: An issue for the understanding of the politicization of attitudes towards the EU

Keywords: public opinion , European identity , Europeanization , France , European public space

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Abstract:

This paper analyzes if and how citizens' attitudes towards European Union (EU) integration are correlated with their ideological and partisan positioning, using France as a case study. We challenge traditional measures of citizens' support for European integration, which are one-dimensional. We analyze the French samples of the European Election Study (EES 2009) and the European Values Study (EVS 2008) surveys and use multiple correspondence analysis to highlight the multidimensionality of French attitudes towards European integration. To avoid methodological problems typically encountered in correspondence analysis when the variables analyzed are ordinal, we have applied an original adaptation of multiple correspondence analysis proposed by French statisticians. The use of multiple correspondence analysis demonstrates the multidimensionality of attitudes of the French towards the EU. Our results show that the correlation of attitudes towards the EU with the left-right scale or partisan identification is not the same across different dimensions. The most general attitude towards the EU (first dimension) has complex relationships with ideological and partisan positioning. However, concerns expressed with respect to the consequences of European integration in terms of loss of social benefits or those expressed in terms of loss of identity and national culture (second and third dimensions) are clearly related to the left-right scale positioning. In the second and third dimensions identified in the EVS 2008 data, attitudes towards the EU rank the left-right positioning in the expected order. These results show that perception of EU integration by the French citizens is not simple.

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