British Journal of Political Science

The Past in the Present: A Cleavage Theory of Party Response to European Integration

a1 Department of Political Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


This article explains the positions taken by national political parties on the issue of European integration over the period 1984–96. Based on the theory of party systems developed by Lipset and Rokkan, we develop a cleavage account of party response to new political issues. We hypothesize that European integration is assimilated into pre-existing ideologies of party leaders, activists and constituencies that reflect long-standing commitments on fundamental domestic issues.


1 We would like to thank the participants at a conference on ‘Citizens, Parties, and Elections’, UNC-Chapel Hill, October 1998, participants of the UNC Department of Political Science discussion group, and Liesbet Hooghe, David Scott, Marco Steenbergen, Helen Wallace, J. Matthew Wilson and, posthumously, Vincent Wright. Earlier versions of this article were presented at Sussex University and Nuffield College, Oxford. We wish to thank the Journal's anonymous referees for exceptionally thorough criticism and suggestions.