From the Constitution to the Lisbon Treaty
Edited by Maurizio Carbone
Chapter 11: The Nordic Countries: Between Scepticism and Adaptation
11. The Nordic countries: between scepticism and adaptation Finn Laursen INTRODUCTION Domestic politics plays an important role in explaining the approach taken by three Nordic Member States – Denmark, Finland and Sweden – on European Union (EU) policies. Governments are caught in a twolevel game, between developments in the EU and domestic politics that may require some time to adapt to new situations (Putnam, 1988). In the case of treaty reforms, the domestic-level game is often rather politicized. The Nordic countries have proportional electoral systems that allow a number of parties to be represented in their parliaments. Increasingly, in the Nordic parliaments there are Eurosceptical parties on the left and right sides of the government coalitions and in some cases cleavages exist also inside government parties. This parliamentary system forces the Nordic governments to be very attentive to the views of the political parties represented. Political parties in turn care about developments in public opinion, always worrying about the next election. The public is also, in varying degrees, sceptical about further integration. This occasionally makes EU politics in the Nordic Member States a precarious two-level game, especially in Denmark, where most major treaty reforms have been ratified by referendum. Combined with parliamentary systems, this often produces relatively weak coalition governments. This takes us beyond the liberal intergovernmentalist perspective on national preference formation, where economic groups in particular are supposed to make demands to governments, which in turn respond to these demands in a fairly automatic way (Moravcsik, 1998). This chapter analyses the...
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