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"Dark matter": Institutional constraints and the failure of party-based euroscepticism in Germany

Lees, C. ORCID: 0000-0002-3517-2211 (2002). "Dark matter": Institutional constraints and the failure of party-based euroscepticism in Germany. Political Studies, 50(2), pp. 244-267. doi: 10.1111/1467-9248.00369


The article is built on four propositions. First, there is a latent potential within the German polity for the mobilisation of what remains a significant level of popular unease about aspects of the ongoing process of European integration. Second, at present this potential is unfulfilled and, as a result, Euroscepticism remains the ‘dark matter’ of German politics. Third, the absence of a clearly stated Eurosceptical agenda is not due to the inherent ‘enlightenment’ of the German political class about the European project, but rather is the result of systemic disincentives shaping the preferences of rational acting politicians. Finally, these systemic disincentives are to be found within the formal institutions of the German polity. The key ideas here are of ‘hard’ versus ‘soft’ Eurosceptical narratives, sustained versus heresthetic agendas, and ‘polis constraining’ versus ‘polis shaping’ strategies for their promotion. Political agents’ choice of strategy depends on the nature of the institutional setting within which they are operating. The institutional configuration of the Federal Republic provides poor returns for party-based Euroscepticism. The mobilisation of popular unease about aspects of European integration remains an unattractive option for rational acting political agents.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the author accepted manuscript of an article published in Political Studies. The definitive version is available at
Subjects: J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs
Text - Accepted Version
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