Reinforcing Change? The EU and the emergence of Podemos and M5S

GT 5.1 The study of policy change in European political systems: searching for domestic and national policy impacts within the European integration process

Fabio Garcia Lupato (Universidad Complutense de Madrid)
Filippo Tronconi (Desconocida)
Sesión 1
Día: lunes,13 de julio de 2015
Hora: 15:00 a 17:30
Lugar: Aula 13

Europeanization studies have focused on different aspects ranging from public policy to institutional or legal requirements. In all cases, the object of study aimed to understand European-driven change in domestic polities, policies and politics. This last aspect, the Europeanization of politics, has been contested. While some aspects regarding the EU are more or less directly applied to Member States (for example, directives, regulations…), or some institutions have to evolve and adapt to the new European context (for example, national Parliaments), the analysis of EU’s impact on domestic politics and notably political parties, is somehow different and difficult to assess. Firstly, because political parties are anchored at the domestic level, their legitimacy, representation or funding is national. Secondly, there is not a possible binding EU’s regulation that can oblige parties to adapt, in a more or less clear way, to it.

However, the financial, economic, political and social crisis that the EU is experiencing has showed that the EU as a supranational institution offers incentives, constraints, opportunities or limits to domestic parties, their proposals or political action. So, while they are more or less free to propose whatever policy they consider, once in government their room of manoeuvre is much more limited. Then, even if in a more diffuse way, political parties are also affected by Europeanization.

In the last few years, many European countries have witnesses the emergence of a myriad of new political parties, or the electoral strengthening of already existing parties that were at the fringes of the party system. Multiple countries, from UK, France, Greece, Italy, Finland or Spain experienced the surge of parties that, in different ways, with different ideologies, ranging from extreme-right to extreme-left or nationalist approaches, started to gain electoral support and popularity. And this is another interesting aspect: these new parties aimed to win elections, opposing to the main parties in their party systems. Hence, they were not mere protest or flash parties, but rather they present a real governmental alternative implying a great change for domestic party systems.

In this case, what role plays the EU and its policies in their political and ideological discourse? What role plays Europeanization in this change? How is their European position and how they it is perceived by their voters? What are the consequences for party systems and what role is playing Europeanization in this change?

The aim of this paper is to try to answer these questions by analyzing two parties, Podemos in Spain and Movimento Cinque Stelle in Italy. Both countries are experiencing the pressures and limitations derived from the EU and they share some common critics and positions even if with relevant differences. The M5S was the most voted party in the last general elections while Podemos is said to be a real government alternative in Spain. In both cases, they strength is due, among other factors, to criticism and dealignment of many citizens with the political system and established parties. In two longstanding pro-European countries, what role does the EU play and how its influences their ideological position or political strategy? 

Palabras clave: change, Europeanization, political parties, Spain, Italy, EU