In this article, a comparison is made between economic and identity explanations of preferences toward EU membership in the Czech Republic. This research demonstrates that economics rather than identity is a more powerful explanation of public opinion on accession. With regard to economic explanations of public support for integration three models are examined - a winners and losers model, an international trade liberalisation model, and a foreign direct investment model. A comparison of these three models shows that support for accession was primarily based on attitudes toward foreign direct investment. Moreover, contemplating employment opportunities within the EU following accession was also an important factor. Contrary to previous research the empirical evidence presented in this article suggests that being a winner or loser in the post-communist transition process was not the strongest factor explaining popular support for membership. The results presented should not be taken to imply that instrumental rather than ideological or affect-based motivations determine general attitudes toward integration. On the specific question of vote choice in the accession referendum instrumental economic considerations were most important.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.