Chatham House has published a study (pdf) (via Politico) that attempts to quantify the diversity of political views across the EU. They came up with six ‘political tribes’, or broad segments of the electorate with distinct attitudes about the EU:
- The largest tribe consists of what can be termed ‘Hesitant Europeans’. They sit in the middle on many issues, and need persuading on the merits of the EU. They tend to be apathetic about politics, are concerned about immigration and tend to prioritize national sovereignty over deeper EU integration.
- ‘Contented Europeans’ are optimistic and pro-European. Often young and broadly socially liberal, they feel that they benefit from the EU but tend to favour the status quo over further integration.
- ‘EU Rejecters’ are angry about politics and the EU. They are least likely to feel any benefits of membership, and overwhelmingly view the EU as undemocratic. Most feel negative about immigration and are socially conservative.
- ‘Frustrated Pro-Europeans’ want a more integrated EU driven by progressive values. They support the idea of richer states helping poorer ones, but are more mixed about immigration than are other pro-Europeans.
- ‘Austerity Rebels’ want a looser, more democratic EU driven by solidarity, with powers returned to member states. They tend to think that richer states should support poorer ones, and that each state should accept its fair share of refugees.
- ‘Federalists’ make up the smallest tribe. They support a deeply integrated ‘United States of Europe’, feel that the EU has benefited them, and are the most positive about immigration. They tend to be wealthier, older and disproportionately male, with strong and diverse social networks.
Obviously, there are many ways to slice up voter attitudes, but this looks like a perfectly valid one and an interesting attempt to go beyond the slogans and ask what people really think about the EU. The key challenge, as the report’s author notes, will be to engage the so-called Hesitant Europeans — the largest and most moderate group on the list.