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Bes, Bart Joachim
Schoonvelde, Martijn
Rauh, Christian
Year of Publication: 
[Journal:] European Journal of Political Research [ISSN:] 1475-6765 [Publisher:] Wiley [Place:] Oxford [Volume:] 59 [Year:] 2020 [Issue:] 2 [Pages:] 397-423
How do mainstream political executives cue their politicised constituencies on European integration? Moving beyond static expectations that EU politicisation induces executives to either undermine, defuse or defend integration, this article theorises executives’ incentives under different configurations of public and partisan Euroscepticism in their home countries. Expectations are tested on the sentiment and complexity that executives attach to European integration in almost 9,000 public speeches delivered throughout the Euro Crisis. It is found that national leaders faced with sceptical public opinion and low levels of partisan Euroscepticism rhetorically undermine integration, whereas European Commissioners faced with similar conditions are prone to defend it. These responses intensify disproportionally with growing public Euroscepticism, but are moderated by Eurosceptic party strength in surprising ways. When such challenger parties come closer to absorbing the Eurosceptic potential in public opinion, executive communication turns more positive again but also involves less clear rhetorical signals. These findings move beyond existing uniform expectations on mainstream responses to Eurosceptic challenges and highlight the relevance of different domestic configurations of EU politicisation.
European integration
elite communication
sentiment analysis
text complexity
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Document Version: 
Accepted Manuscript (Postprint)

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