Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Huddle Up! Exploring Domestic Coalition Formation Dynamics in the Differentiated Politicization of TTIP

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Abstract:  The politicization of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has manifested itself to different extents across EU Member States. In some countries, conflicting interpretations about the deal were highly visible in public and political debates, while in others there was hardly any awareness. To further understand this phenomenon, trade scholars have to date not yet deepened nor leveraged the insights of the ‘differentiated politicization’ and social movement literature, which both point to coalition formation as an important trigger of politicization processes. This article contributes to our understanding of variation in politicization across EU Member States, by exploring coalition formation dynamics in differentiated politicization processes, in order to identify the factors facilitating successful domestic coalition formation. Through an exploratory case study design, I focus on three countries that exemplify high, middle, and low politicization cases: Germany, Belgium, and Ireland. By relying on the testimonies of campaigners active during the TTIP episode, I identify three elements that facilitated the formation of a diverse domestic coalition, which subsequently played an important role in pushing for a broad-based debate about the implications of TTIP: (i) an expert ‘mesomobilization’ link with a transnational advocacy network, (ii) the prior availability of domestic alliances, and (iii) an inclusive framing approach in order to establish a diverse coalition. The findings also underline the importance of timing in the unfolding of (successful) politicization processes.

Keywords:  alliances; coalition formation; contestation; European Union; networks; politicization; trade; Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership


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© Niels Gheyle. 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.