Seizing the Opportunity: Euroscepticism and Extremist Party Success in the Post-Maastricht Era


  • Renee L. Buhr

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    • This article was written with the assistance of a faculty research grant from the University of St Thomas’s Faculty Development Center. The author would like to thank Nils Ringe, David Art and Leigh Payne for their extensive feedback on earlier drafts of this paper. Thanks are also due to the two anonymous reviewers for their help in revising the current paper for publication.


Can extremist parties benefit from a backlash against European Union integration? A theoretical model that integrates demand-side, supply-side and political opportunity space explanations for extremist party success is used here in an effort to predict the conditions under which extremist parties may have utilized increased public discontent with EU integration to increase their vote share in national legislative elections. The plausibility of the model is then tested against the evidence in 14 EU member states from 1992 to 2006, with the use of matrices and political opportunity space maps. In the majority of the elections examined, extremist parties increased their vote share in circumstances fitting the theoretical model.