Don’t mention Europe: a study of the Europeanisation of party organisation in the British Labour Party, the French Socialist Party and the German Social Democratic Party.

Isabelle Hertner

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This thesis examines how the British Labour Party, the French Socialist Party (PS) and the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) have ‘Europeanised’ their organisations in three different arenas: (1) in the electorate and party system; (2) in central government and parliament; and (3) in their internal procedures and activities. ‘Europeanisation’ is defined as ‘a shorthand term for a complex process whereby national actors (in this case, parties) adapt to, and also seek to shape, the trajectory of European integration in general, and EU policies and processes in particular’ (Bomberg: 2002, 32). The underlying argument is that social democratic parties have to respond to challenges created by the European Single Market, which demands the reduction of state subsidies, and by the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), which sets limits to public spending. Social democratic parties are expected to react to these challenges by Europeanising their organisations.
This thesis draws on the academic literature, party documents and contemporary newspaper articles, together with insights gained from 70 semi-structured interviews with EU experts at the European and national levels.
The central claim is that Labour, the PS and SPD have not become as Europeanised as might have been supposed for three ostensibly pro-European parties. Whilst successive party leaderships have paid lip service to the increasing importance of European integration, their party organisations have barely been involved in the formulation of European policy. The findings have serious implications for the three parties and domestic politics in Britain, France and Germany, since the memberships lack the enthusiasm and expertise to lead well-informed, critical, Europeanised debates and election campaigns.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Sloam, James, Supervisor
  • Benedetto, Giacomo, Advisor
Award date1 Mar 2013
Publication statusUnpublished - 2013

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