• Bolette Halkjær Skov Sørensen
4. term, European Studies, Master (Master Programme)
This thesis explores and assesses whether there are variations in the European citizens'
relationship to the European Union (EU) in federations and unitary states. The underlying
hypothesis stems from argumentation that exposure to, or rather socialization in a multi-level
governance system, supposedly makes citizens socialized in federations more apt to engage
in the politics surrounding the EU, given that this is conceptualized as another layer of
governance. The problem formulation which guides this thesis is: To what extent are there
variations in the citizens’ relationship to the EU between federations and unitary Member
The thesis takes the form of a mixed-methods longitudinal comparative case study.
The chosen Member States are all three federations in the EU, Austria, Belgium, Germany,
and three unitary states. Each federation was partnered with a unitary member state based on
requirements pertaining to the age of EU membership and population. The three unitary states
being France, the Netherlands and Sweden, meaning that Austria and Sweden were matched,
Belgium and the Netherlands were matched, and Germany and France were matched
The thesis’s literature review introduces and discusses a selection of the plethora of
academic literature on the topic of legitimacy, regional integration, identity and identity
creation, as well as state structure. But the literature review importantly also doubles as the
theoretical point of entrance for the analysis. It is from the literature review and the
conceptual framework that the three essential elements of analysis of citizen’s relationship to
the EU are uncovered, introduced and operationalized. Those three elements are voter
turnout, attachment and identification, and support towards the EU.STATE STRUCTURE & CITIZENS’ RELATIONSHIP TO THE EU
A mixed methodology and mixed-methods approach is applied in order to answer the
stipulated research question adequately. The data subjected to analysis stems from three main
sources. Voter turnouts were retrieved from IDEA and data on public opinion from
Eurobarometer. These two secondary data sources are, additionally, complimented by an
expert interview.
Throughout the analysis, it is uncovered that there to a great but not exclusive extent
tend to be a higher turnout for the EP elections in the analysed federations than their
partnered unitary states, the discrepancy between voter turnout at the EP election and the
national parliament election are also often, but not consistently smaller in the federations,
France, for instance, is undoubtedly the analysed Member State with the smallest discrepancy
between EP and national elections. However, the federations do not top overall voter turnout
statistics. Finally, the results are discussed, and reasoning as to why we see some of the given
results are offered. The second and third element of the analysis, pertaining to attachment and
identification as well as support for the EU. It is concluded that in the questions which were
touching upon a civic form of identification there was, at least for the founding MS, a higher
level in the federations than the unitary states.
But for most analysed elements, there are no tangible variations between the
federations and the unitary states. Alternative explanations are accordingly taken into
consideration throughout the thesis. In the thesis conclusion, it is suggested that more
research needs to be conducted on the nature of decentralization in the EU’s Member States,
what additional cases might tell us, but also that additional aspects such as trust in the EU’s
institutions, can be of interest in the analysis of citizens’ relationship to the EU.
Keywords: Longitudinal Comparative Case Study, European Union, Federations, Unitary
States, European Citizens, Voter Turnout, Public Opinion.
Publication date30 Jun 2021
Number of pages70
ID: 414191587