The Nationalization of Politics: The Formation of National Electorates and Party Systems in Western Europe

By Mayhew, Simon | The Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies, Spring 2005 | Go to article overview

The Nationalization of Politics: The Formation of National Electorates and Party Systems in Western Europe


Mayhew, Simon, The Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies


The Nationalization of Politics: The Formation of National Electorates and Party Systems in Western Europe

Daniele Caramani

Cambridge University Press, 2004

It is the thesis of this book that, in their efforts to impose a degree of political unity on the populations of the European Union's member countries, advocates of European federalism have reason to direct the various national publics away from ethnic identity and local loyalties and values towards the supremacy of what might be regarded as supranational political aggregates and goals. As such, the prime emphasis is on class and economic issues, and on the amalgamation of national right-left parties into European-wide, collaborating, social democratic "liberal" and international capitalist "conservative" party organizations.

Ethnic and cultural diversity constitutes a problem to those who wish to advance internationalist homogenizing goals by promoting the ascendancy of economic interests over all other goals, since, according to the author, "the homogeneity of the left-right dimension appears to have been 'distorted' by the intersection with particularly strong cultural and territorial identities." One way around this, of course, has been the move by those who direct the European Union to eventually replace ancient national boundaries by new "regional" electoral and ultimately administrative boundaries as the basis of the new supranational state. These new political regions will cross established cultural and ethnic boundaries and so reduce the ability of those with national aspirations to resist the aggregation of Europeans into a single proletariat. Although the intra-European migration of European nationals, and the increasingly important influx of non-Europeans into Western Europe, may be likely to achieve that goal more quickly than purely political redrawing of the national boundaries of Europe, Caramani's study is nonetheless very revealing as to the way European federalists think. …

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