Economic crisis, bailout packages, and austerity measures have been the central agenda in Southern European countries for the last few years, while a strong decline of trust in European and national institutions was alarming. Citizens’ dealignment proved itself important in various demonstrations. This situation also created new parties and changed the vote share of some others. Political science scholars have a certain interest and there is a growing literature on the topic; however, one question, in a comparative perspective, remained unanswered: Why there are strong anti-establishment and Eurosceptic parties in Italy and Greece, and not in Spain and Portugal? What are the main determinants of voting behavior in times of increasing distrust in mainstream politics? And very importantly, what are the future implications of decreasing partisanship on the quality of democracy in these countries?
Today, anti-system and Eurosceptic parties are affecting the future of the European Union since they are also represented in the European Parliament. This paper investigates the contradictions in Southern European countries related to political parties and voting behavior, even if they have faced similar implementations of the crisis and congruent regulations from the European Union. It is based on the findings of the European Election Studies (EES) 2004, 2009 and 2014; compares public opinion, trust and partisanship on one hand, and citizen perceptions of political parties and voting behavior in EP elections on the other. Voting behavior will be the main dependent variable and it will be explained with left/right ideology, independence/integration attitudes and partisanship.