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Legitimising accession: Transformation politics and elite consensus on EU membership in Poland, 1989-2003.

Pluta, Anna M (2010) Legitimising accession: Transformation politics and elite consensus on EU membership in Poland, 1989-2003. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis considers the evolution of Poland's party-political consensus on accession to the European Union, starting with the elections to the contract parliament in June 1989 and ending with the accession referendum in June 2003. The main finding is that the establishment of consensus in favour of accession among Poland's political elites proved much more challenging than the elites' declarations of support suggest. Although most parties declared support for accession, throughout the entire pre-accession period they also supported policy proposals that contradicted accession conditions. The EU's strict neoliberal economic requirements and the loss of national sovereignty accession entailed proved particularly challenging. Rather than reconcile their policy proposals with EU's conditions, or change their stance on accession, parties rhetorically re-presented the EU into different visions that aligned with their ideological offering. Declarations of support for 'Social Europe', 'Christian Europe' or the 'Europe of Nations' gave the appearance of consensus. But in fact no in-depth consensus was possible since the way in which political groupings presented the 'Europe' they claimed to support was so different as to remove a common denominator they could agree on. As a result, the single biggest change Polish society experienced since 1989 was never really addressed in political debate. The integration project was propelled forward not by in-depth political consensus but by a series of rhetorical compromises. At each stage of the accession process the parties' inability to negotiate more than a nominal consensus prevented meaningful public debate. During each electoral contest of the pre-accession period voters were presented with ambiguous rhetoric in place of alternative policy options that would have enabled the electorate to hold decision makers to account.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Political Science, General, East European Studies
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
Departments > International History

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