Trends in the partisan positions on internationalism and defence in Europe, 1945-2016

  • Paul Pennings (Speaker)

Activity: Lecture / PresentationAcademic


This paper analyses the trends and variations in the main ideological and contextual variables which affect the positions that parties take on defence and internationalism. The ideological variables are the partisan positions taken on the conflict dimensions left-right and progressive-conservative. The analysis shows that left and progressive parties are less pro defence and more pro internationalism than right and conservative parties, but there are significant differences within these party groups depending on the time period, country and region. The research results on contextual differences indicate that Eastern European parties are mostly more pro-military oriented than Western European parties. Likely causes are the conservative orientation of many Eastern parties in combination with the perceived external threats. The analysis shows that Left-right and Gal/Tan are differently related to defence and internationalism in East and West. Finally, the longitudinal analysis shows that parties differ more on their support of defence during the Cold War than after the Cold War when military defence became less politicised. The same convergence is also prevalent in the support of internationalism. After the Cold War parties differ less on their support of internationalism because international cooperation has become more prominent in nearly all policy areas.
These results are relevant for the ongoing academic debate on the consequences of the end of the Cold War for the ideological positions of parties. The idea of Fukuyama (1990) that the end of the Cold War means that the main ideological distinctions will vanish is not fully confirmed. Ideological differences remain relevant. The importance of left-right for the positions taken on defence seem to diminish, but the importance of conservative versus progressive remains as important as ever.
Period1 Jun 20172 Jun 2017
Event titlePoliticologenetmaal: Presentation at the annual conference of Dutch and Flemish Political Scientists, Leiden, 1 and 2 June 2017
Event typeConference
LocationLeiden, NetherlandsShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational