Brexit, Secession, and Euroscepticism

Elliot Mark Sulima


This paper seeks to develop a forecasting tool for movements to separate within the European Union. Using a primarily cultural approach, the attitudes that exist in all EU countries will be looked at, and compared to secessionist movements at the sub-state level. Despite the fact that the European Union is not a state, it has taken on many of the functions of one, and the movements in states to separate from the EU are similar to sub-state secession movements. Attitudes leading to separation from the EU do differ from those guiding internal secession, and these movements have their own term: Euroscepticism. The question guiding the research is what public perceptions allow Eurosceptic political movements to take hold? The answer, supported by this work is that a combination of institutional, cultural, and economic perceptions, not economic realities, lead to Eurosceptic tendencies. To support the hypothesis, this paper has created a model that measures Eurosceptic attitudes in order to forecast future secession movements. Many models exist for secession movements, and Eurosceptic attitudes, but none combining the fields. Secessionist and Eurosceptic literature and models were blended in order to create an effective forecasting tool at the EU level. The model uses Hard Eurosceptic party vote share in the 2014 European Parliament elections as the dependent variable, and “EU Confidence” as the independent variable. “EU Confidence” is itself a composite of “Institutional Trust”, “Belonging”, and “Economic Trust”, which are in turn composed of public opinion polls, conducted in 2014, on a variety of issues in the EU. The analysis based on the last European Parliament elections shows a strong correlation, with an r-value of -0.690, between Eurosceptic vote share and “EU Confidence”. Furthermore, three of the countries most at risk of secession post-2014, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Greece, were the three forecasted by the model.


European Union; Secession; Confidence Model; Euroscepticism

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