English title: Playing the blame game on Brussels: the domestic political effects of EU interventions against democratic backsliding

Author(s): Bernd Schlipphak - Oliver Treib -

Language: English

Type: Journal article

Year: 2017


This article develops the argument that European Union (EU) intervention to protect its core values is likely to provoke unintended and undesired consequences at the domestic level. EU intervention will typically invite the accused government to play the blame game on Brussels. By criticizing the EU for illegitimately interfering with domestic affairs, the government may frame EU intervention as a threat from the outside and present itself as the only safeguard against this threat. As a consequence, support for those domestic actors that were supposed to be weakened by EU intervention is likely to increase in the aftermath of a European intervention, while EU support might significantly drop. The article illustrates this argument by tracing domestic reactions to EU interventions against Austria between 2000 and 2002 and against Hungary since 2010. In conclusion, the EU should be very cautious with such external interventions, since they may easily strengthen anti-EU and illiberal political forces at the domestic level. To minimize the risk of such undesired consequences, bottom–up mechanisms against democratic backsliding should be installed, which would allow disadvantaged domestic groups to appeal to an independent European democracy watchdog if they feel that democratic rules are being violated in their country.

Volume: 24

Issue: 3

From page no: 352

To page no: 365

Refereed: Yes

DOI: 10.1080/13501763.2016.1229359

Journal: Journal of European Public Policy

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