A Review of “Globalization: Winners and Losers Across a New Political Divide” by Isabella Issa

Reviewed by Associate Editor Susan Zhou 

The paper “Globalization: Winners and Losers Across a New Political Divide” by Isabella Issa examines the rise of the populist movement in Europe, particularly after the financial crash of 2008-2009, finding opposition to the EU to be more focused on dealignment than pro-integration. The paper begins by defining key terms, placing a particular emphasis on how populism includes ideological extremes on both the left and right ends of the spectrum, possibly making the groups on either end of the ideological spectrum more similar than they are to those in the middle, particularly with respect to issues of European integration and globalization.

The paper posits that these issues have become more divisive, particularly following the crash of 2008. Given that there exists “winners” and “losers,” or people who benefit and those who are harmed as a result of globalization, the paper suggests that people who form a part of the “losing” group are drawn more towards populist oriented groups. The first hypothesis is that the party’s stance on these issues may help predict the party’s future performance in the elections. The second hypothesis is that the groups near the center of the spectrum will be more pro-integrationist than the groups on the far right- and left- ends of the spectrum.

The study examines the elections of the 15 original EU members in the years between 1996 and 2015. The cases used were divided according to the time period (before and after 2008) as well as by party ideology. The changes in party votes between elections is calculated and organized based on the parties’ stances towards EU integration and globalism. Control variables include rates of unemployment and levels of economic division.

Although little connection is found between the party’s stance on EU integration and their electoral results, a pro-integrationist stance functions as a negative predictor of electoral success following 2008. Euroskeptic sentiments don’t have very strong connections with electoral outcomes, although pro-internationalist stances tend to function as negative predictors as well. Research findings also support the hypothesis that groups near the center of the spectrum would be more pro-integrationist than the groups at either end.

These results indicate that the importance of the parties’ stances on EU integration and internationalism have become more important in the parties’ electoral success in 2008 and after. Voters do seem to be more repelled by outright pro-integrationist stances than drawn by anti-integrationist stances, however. Increased availability of data in the years to come could help clarify and substantiate these findings. Moreover, further analysis could elucidate other nuances of electoral change, whether by groups of voters or by region. This paper provides insightful perspectives and analysis on electoral changes in the EU following the crash of 2008. The particular focus it takes with respect to shifting attitudes towards European integration and globalization highlights key transitions that will likely become more important and prominent in the years to come.