Religion, European elections and EU politics : a resilient second-order factor for a second-order polity?

Retour aux publications
François Foret et Émilie Mondo
European University Institute

Abstract :

The purpose of this article is to make sense of the resurgence of religion on the political agenda of a secularizing Europe. The focus is placed on the European Union (EU). The religious factor is considered alternatively as an influence on political attitudes and behaviours; as an ideological and party component; and as a controversial policy stake. We analyse the effects of the religious factor in past European elections as an element framing the perception of European integration and voting. We then document the crisis affecting the Christian-Democratic family incarnated by the European People’s Party (EPP) and competing narratives about religion to claim leadership in the redefinition of the core ideology and the boundaries of this political family. Two cases studies are developed: The ‘Hungarian crisis’ and identity politics promoted by Viktor Orbán: the Spitzenkandidaten process to select the EPP candidate running for the presidency of the Commission. We finally study the treatment of religion as a policy issue within the EP and as a potential bone of contention in the incoming term.