A survey of nearly 11,000 people across 20 different countries has revealed that eurosceptic voters tend to lean towards more traditional values, and distrust government and corporations more than those who think favourably of the European Union.
The huge survey by Dutch research firm Motivaction found that the average eurosceptic voter is more likely to be male, over 45, and married. But it also points out that those who regard themselves as eurosceptic tend more towards the working classes, and those who feel that modern society has let them down in some way.
The study sought to identify commonalities between the various eurosceptic groups around Europe, showing how UKIP (UK), Freedom Party (Netherlands), Front Nationale (France), Northern League (Italy) and Flemish Interest (Belgium) voters have similar outlooks on life.
On the whole, non-eurosceptics (europhiles, or those undecided) tend to be more trusting of national governments, the United Nations, big banks, and even lawyers and the legal system.
Europhiles are also more likely to take people at their word than eurosceptics, and are less inclined to believe that children should always obey their parents.
Eurosceptic voters are also more interested in ‘having fun’, according to the report, which also asked respondents what they thought the meaning of life was. It says:
“Eurosceptic voters are longing for structure and security in their own life. They like their life to be organised and predictable. They more frequently agree that ‘children should always obey their parents’ and that nowadays there is ‘too little emphasis on traditional values’… They have a more utilitarian view on life. Asked about the meaning of life they more often answer: ‘having fun’.”
The survey suggests that eurosceptics also tend not to be purist capitalists, which a majority of them expressing concerns about bankers bonuses and high salaries, though they also tend to oppose government bailouts:
“They do have an outspoken opinion about the political issues that they care about. ‘Crime and safety’ and ‘immigration and integration’ are the most distinctive issues that they find important. On the other hand environmental policies and concerns about employment score fairly low. Eurosceptic voters are more than average worried about governments having to rescue banks. On social issues it is interesting that while there is no large support for ‘more equal distribution of wealth’, they are outspokenly negative about the ‘bonus culture’ and the generally ‘high salary levels’ in the banking sector. This reflects a deep suspicion of elites, which manifests itself also in their support for companies to fight corruption (instead of other Social Corporate Responsibility goals).”
Eurosceptics also care less about more left-wing, government-led initiatives such as the pursuit of ‘human rights’ and ‘multiculturalism’. The report also notes that eurosceptics appear to care passionately about animal rights:
“This suspicion of elites also has a policy component in the sense that Eurosceptic voters have a clear aversion of all those policy issues that elites, especially EU elites, tend to care very much about: human rights, environmental policies, cultural exchange and multiculturalism. The one altruistic issue that they do feel passionately about are animal rights.”
The report concludes, that contrary to the predominant media and political opinions, that “these are not one-off protest votes, but votes of a group of people who feel fundamentally disconnected from mainstream politics and who recognize themselves in the anti-establishment, anti-migration and anti-EU rhetoric of right wing Eurosceptic parties.”
In order to win these voters back, Motivaction claims that europhiles and the European Union would have to fundamentally change their approaches, or hope that some economic rewards for current policies emerge soon.