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The paradox of nationalism: The common denominator of radical right and radical left euroscepticism


Daphne Halikiopoulou, Department of Government, London School of Economics and Political Science, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE, UK. Tel.: +44 (0)20 7955 7805; E-mail:


What can explain the strong euroscepticism of radical parties of both the right and the left? This article argues that the answer lies in the paradoxical role of nationalism as a central element in both party families, motivating opposition towards European integration. Conventionally, the link between nationalism and euroscepticism is understood solely as a prerogative of radical right-wing parties, whereas radical left-wing euroscepticism is associated with opposition to the neoliberal character of the European Union. This article contests this view. It argues that nationalism cuts across party lines and constitutes the common denominator of both radical right-wing and radical left-wing euroscepticism. It adopts a mixed-methods approach, combining intensive case study analysis with quantitative analysis of party manifestos. First, it traces the link between nationalism and euroscepticism in Greece and France in order to demonstrate the internal validity of the argument. It then undertakes a cross-country statistical estimation to assess the external validity of the argument and its generalisability across Europe.