The study examines whether and how Trump’s election has changed support for the European Union in Europe. The result: Europeans – especially those who lean right in the political spectrum – see the EU in a more positive light. To examine the effect of Trump’s election, the authors took advantage of the fact that it happened in the middle of a Eurobarometer survey. The EU Commission regularly uses the Eurobarometer to gauge public opinion regarding EU citizenship, including in November 2016. About half of the interviews were conducted before Trump’s election, the other half afterwards. “Since Trump’s electoral success came as a surprise, and the allocation of respondents to an interview before or after the election was purely coincidental and did not depend on the respective political preferences of the individuals, this comes quite close to what we call a natural experiment,” says author Lara Minkus. Together with sociologist Emanuel Deutschmann (European University Institute, Florence) and Jan Delhey, professor of macrosociology at Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg, she found out that a change in support for the EU after the presidential election must therefore be a “Trump effect.”
EU More Popular among Right-Wingers
The EU received more support from the public after the Trump election. However, this increase is unevenly distributed if it is divided according to political orientation. It is particularly amongst right-wingers that the Trump effect can be measured. Support for the EU has also increased slightly among those who are politically centered or left, but this could still be regarded as a coincidence in statistical terms. The authors asked themselves what the motives of those who are more right-wing are, but they can only speculate here. The most plausible thing is that the Trump election has fueled hopes in these political circles of developing the EU into a “Europe of Nations” that is more closed to the outside world and pursues a more protectionist power policy, says Lara Minkus. “Whether this ‘Trump effect’ on the right was temporary or permanent will be seen in the next European elections in May next year.”
L. Minkus, E. Deutschmann, and J. Delhey, 2018: A Trump Effect on the EU’s Popularity? The U.S. Presidential Election as a Natural Experiment. Perspectives on Politics: 1–18; https://doi.org/10.1017/S1537592718003262.
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