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Ole Elgström

Ole Elgström

Professor emeritus

Ole Elgström

Coalitions in EU negotiations

Author

  • Ole Elgström
  • Bo Bjurulf
  • Jonas Johansson
  • Anders Sannerstedt

Summary, in English

Coalitions will probably become an increasingly important theme in European Union (EU) politics. The spread of decision making by majority voting promotes coalition-building behaviour. The impending enlargement is predicted to differentiate and polarize policy standpoints within the EU. Increasing levels of policy conflict imply increased propensities for coalition building. Still, the role and nature of coalitions in EU negotiations are obscure. This article raises important research questions: What characterizes coalition building in the EU? How important are coalitions? What coalition patterns are discernible?Using data from a questionnaire to Swedish participants on EU committees, it is shown that coalitions are more frequent when majority voting occurs than when unanimity rules. Coalition behaviour is, however, important also under unanimity. The existence of consensus norms diminishes the propensity to form coalitions. As regards coalition patterns, there is a prevalence of coalitions based on policy interests and/or on cultural affinity. Contrary to conventional wisdom, consistent and durable coalition patterns seem to exist. The north–south divide is one such persistent pattern. The Swedish respondents thus reveal a close cooperation between the Nordic member states and Great Britain, whereas France and Spain are seldom approached for coalition-building purposes. As to future research, evidence from other member states and from case studies is needed in order to learn more about the bases for coalition building in EU negotiations.

Department/s

  • Department of Political Science

Publishing year

2001

Language

English

Pages

111-128

Publication/Series

Scandinavian Political Studies

Volume

24

Issue

2

Document type

Journal article

Publisher

Wiley-Blackwell

Topic

  • Political Science

Keywords

  • Politik i Europa

Status

Published

ISBN/ISSN/Other

  • ISSN: 1467-9477