Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

The EU Multi-Level System and the Europeanization of Domestic Blame Games

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Abstract:  Blame games between governing and opposition parties are a characteristic feature of domestic politics. In the EU, policymaking authority is shared among multiple actors across different levels of governance. How does EU integration affect the dynamics of domestic blame games? Drawing on the literatures on EU politicisation and blame attribution in multi-level governance systems, we derive expectations about the direction and frequency of blame attributions in a Europeanized setting. We argue, first, that differences in the direction and frequency of blame attributions by governing and opposition parties are shaped by their diverging baseline preferences as blame avoiders and blame generators; secondly, we posit that differences in blame attributions across Europeanized policies are shaped by variation in political authority structures, which incentivize certain attributions while constraining others. We hypothesize, inter alia, that blame games are “Europeanized” primarily by governing parties and when policy-implementing authority rests with EU-level actors. We test our theoretical expectations by analysing parliamentary debates on EU asylum system policy and EU border control policy in Austria and Germany.

Keywords:  blame attribution; blame-shifting; European Union; multi-level governance; parliamentary debates


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© Tim Heinkelmann-Wild, Lisa Kriegmair, Berthold Rittberger. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.