Western european public opinion and “Defense Without the Threat”

Philip A.G. Sabin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter explores evolution of European opinion in early 1980s, using the evidence provided by public opinion polls. It examines changes in public perceptions of Soviet threat, and assesses impact of the changes on attitudes to North Atlantic Treaty Organization policy. The best way of gauging differences among opinions in different nations is through coordinated cross-national polls. A cross-national poll in January 1990 confirmed that the public in Britain and France are less sure than in other Western European nations that recent developments have removed risks of serious conflict. Defence and foreign affairs are areas remote from public's everyday experience and awareness, and opinions about them may be influenced strongly by political leadership. British and French nuclear forces have long been seen as symbols of national independence, and a poll in April 1989 found that these forces commanded significantly greater public support at home than among other European nations. The chapter offers some tentative explanations for the patterns observed.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEmerging Dimensions of European Security Policy
PublisherTaylor and Francis Ltd.
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9780429695094
ISBN (Print)0813383137, 9780367012410
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


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