Academic journal article Journal of Social Research & Policy

External Validity for One-Dimensional Cumulative Scaling on Supranational Political Decision-Making

Academic journal article Journal of Social Research & Policy

External Validity for One-Dimensional Cumulative Scaling on Supranational Political Decision-Making

Article excerpt


This paper examines citizens' preferences for a supranational decision-making in 21 European countries based on the data collected from the European Social Survey (ESS). The goal of this study is twofold. The first intention is to create a one-dimensional cumulative scale of political preferences at supranational level. Mokken scaling, a non-parametric item response approach is used for this purpose. We haven't found any single unified European scale and clusters of countries based on citizens' preferences regarding decision-making were carried out. Notably different levels of support emerged for supranational decision-making in different clusters. On that basis, individual scores for the level of supranational decision-making were developed`. The second goal is to study the external validity of supranationalism in order to understand empirically which are the main factors responsible for determining the previously created level of supranationalism. Results show that most relevant variable is "trust in the European P" which has a strong positive effect on support for supranational decision-making, while trust in the national parliament has a negative effect on the same variable. The pattern of significant variables is similar across clusters but the ranking of most influential variables on supranationalism varies.

Keywords: Supranationalism; Political Preferences; Political Decision-Making, Mokken Scaling, Cross-Cultural Comparison; Political Trust.


Strom (2000) describes the chain of delegation of decision-making power in the European Union as follows: Elections determine the delegation of power from the voters to the national candidates. National parliaments have delegated part of their decision-making power to the European institutions. Such a structure could be perceived as multilevel governance (Jordan, 2000). Strom (2000) considers the extent to which the European Commission and the different governments are responsible for different policies according to EU legislation. Responsibility is subject to the principle of subsidiarity, which, according to EU legislation determines the type of policies to be decided at each level (regional, national or supranational). Therefore, the main goal of this paper is to study the opinions of citizens living in different European countries about the connection between the level of political decision and several relevant policies.

The principle of subsidiarity was first ideated in 1992 during the Treaty of Maastricht and rewritten in the 1997 as part of the Treaty of Amsterdam. The principle of subsidiarity was updated on 13 December 2007 by the Treaty of Lisbon, which amended the Treaty of the European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Community (Official Journal of the European Union, 2007). The principle of subsidiarity indicates that policy decisions should be made at a level as close to the citizen as possible, ensuring the lowest effective level of governance (Dekker et al, 2007; Ederveen, Gelauff & Pelkmans, 2006; Follesdal, 1998; Pelkmans, 2006). Consequently, the application of this principle may cause decentralization and shifting of power away from supranational entities. Countries may use this principle to enhance the power of their own territories and prevent high levels of supranational intervention. Taylor (2006, 2009) studied how the principle of subsidiarity is applied between the federal and national governments in Germany. Ederveen, Gelauff & Pelkmans (2006) and Dekker et al. (2007) compared centralization and decentralization for different policies.

The first part of the article is dedicated to the study of the subsidiarity preferences by European citizens; such level of subsidiarity is measured by the citizens' preferences on the level of political decision-making for relevant policies. Preferences regarding policy levels are determined by the following question: "Which policies should be regulated by the EU and which ones by the national governments? …

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