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Learning from precedent: how the British Brexit experience shapes nationalist rhetoric outside the UK


Martini, Marco; Walter, Stefanie (2024). Learning from precedent: how the British Brexit experience shapes nationalist rhetoric outside the UK. Journal of European Public Policy, 31(5):1231-1258.

Abstract

The liberal international order has recently come under increasing nationalist pressure, evidenced by a rise in nationalist demands to withdraw from international institutions. A growing literature examines the domestic economic, social, and political origins of this 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 the feasibility and desirability of withdrawals to nationalist elites in other countries. Hence, 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 analyses of media reports in ten European countries, we show we show that nationalist parties in Europe increased or moderated the aggressiveness about their EU-related rhetoric as the ups and downs of the Brexit-drama unfolded. Our results suggest that precedents of nationalist withdrawals shape domestic politics well beyond the concerned countries themselves.

Abstract

The liberal international order has recently come under increasing nationalist pressure, evidenced by a rise in nationalist demands to withdraw from international institutions. A growing literature examines the domestic economic, social, and political origins of this 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 the feasibility and desirability of withdrawals to nationalist elites in other countries. Hence, 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 analyses of media reports in ten European countries, we show we show that nationalist parties in Europe increased or moderated the aggressiveness about their EU-related rhetoric as the ups and downs of the Brexit-drama unfolded. Our results suggest that precedents of nationalist withdrawals shape domestic politics well beyond the concerned countries themselves.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Political Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:320 Political science
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Sociology and Political Science
Social Sciences & Humanities > Public Administration
Uncontrolled Keywords:Nationalism, International institutions, Disintegration, Brexit, Elite learning, Elite discourse
Language:English
Date:3 May 2024
Deposited On:22 Aug 2023 13:10
Last Modified:30 Mar 2024 04:33
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:1350-1763
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/13501763.2023.2176530
Project Information:
  • : FunderEuropean Research Council
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title
  • : FunderH2020
  • : Grant ID817582
  • : Project TitleDISINTEGRATION - The Mass Politics of Disintegration
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)