Historical Social Research

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Pedro T. Magalhães, João Cancela & Catherine MouryScattered Clouds in the Horizon of Consensus: Attitudes of Portuguese Parliamentary Elites Towards Europe Before and After the Crisis. [Abstract]

In this article we analyze the evolution of the attitudes towards Europe of Portuguese parliamentary elites in the context of the sovereign debt crisis. Our analysis relies on interviews to a total of 227 MPs in the context of the ENEC project in 2014 and of the Intune Project in 2009 and 2007. Our principal finding is that an important gap has risen between the attitudes of the MPs and of the masses. Indeed, while the Portuguese are becoming increasingly less pro-European, this is not the case of their deputies. We show that, in 2014, the percentage of deputies that believed that EU membership benefited the country has decreased a little, but it stays as high as 89%. Our data, however, show that MPs now exhibit lower levels of trust towards the European institutions. Interestingly, the drop in the levels of trust towards EU institutions does not affect all institutions equally: trust towards the European Parliament remains constant regarding 2007, whereas the levels of trust in the remaining two institutions decrease. Finally, we show that it is in the Socialist Party (PS) that there is the steepest decline in the level of overall trust, which is rooted in declining levels of confidence in the European Commission. Given that PS has traditionally portrayed itself as the most pro-Europe of the Portuguese parties, this is solid evidence of a growing discontent with the European Commission.

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