DOI: 10.1111/1475-6765.12652 ISSN: 0304-4130

Bringing geography back in: Borderlands and public support for the European Union

  • Sociology and Political Science


What explains the variation in public support for European integration? While the existing literature has predominantly focused on economic, cultural and political factors, the influence of geography has been largely overlooked. In this paper, we aim to fill this gap by examining the impact of residing in the European Union (EU) border regions on voters' perceptions and attitudes towards the EU. Contrary to previous research, our study reveals a remarkable pattern, indicating that individuals living in border regions exhibit a higher propensity to vote for Eurosceptic parties and hold negative views on the EU. Through the utilization of both behavioural and attitudinal indicators in years ranging between 1999 and 2021 and employing statistical matching, our analysis robustly supports this finding. Moreover, we delve into the underlying mechanisms driving these negative attitudes in border regions, highlighting the significance of institutional factors. A mediation analysis reveals an interesting and previously unexplored theoretical twist: We find that residing in a border region is associated with lower trust in national political institutions, which translates into distrust in the EU. These findings suggest that it might be policymakers residing in the capital of the country rather than people on the other side of the border that make borderland inhabitants' attitudes distinctly negative.

More from our Archive