The liberal international order has recently come under increasing nationalist pressures, evidenced for example by a rise in nationalist demands to withdraw from international institutions. A growing literature examines the domestic economic, social, and political origins of the nationalist backlash against international institutions. However, less is known about the extent to which precedents of withdrawals of one country affect nationalist pressures for future
withdrawals elsewhere. In this paper, we argue that initial withdrawal episodes provide new information about both the feasibility and desirability of withdrawals to nationalist elites in other countries. As a consequence, we expect nationalists abroad to be either encouraged or deterred to follow a similar path – depending on the success of these precedents. We explore this argument in the context of the British withdrawal from the European Union (Brexit),
which arguably marks the most significant withdrawal from an international institution to date. Based on a quantitative text analyses of media reports in selected European countries, we show that nationalists in Europe significantly moderate their demands to leave the EU as the Brexit-drama unfolds, suggesting that new information generated by the Brexit process systematically affects nationalist pressures in other countries. Our results suggest that precedents
of nationalist withdrawals may thus shape national politics well beyond the concerned countries themselves.