- Sage Publications, Inc.
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- Nbr. 41-4, November 2021
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- Do Spitzenkandidaten debates matter? Effects on voters’ cognitions and evaluations of candidates and issues
The Lisbon Treaty introduced key institutional changes to increase the relevance of elections to the European Parliament (EP). Among these was the ‘Spitzenkandidaten process’, which was introduced with the aim to increase the visibility of the EP elections and mobilise more citizens to turnout to vote. This article investigates the effect that the debates among the Lead Candidates had on voters’ perceptions about candidates and policy issues. To do this, we administered a two-wave panel online survey to a sample of students from different European universities prior to the Spitzenkandidaten debates and directly after them, following the logic of a quasi-experimental research design. Following a difference-in-differences approach, we gauge the extent to which those respondents who were exposed to the debates increased their degree of information about the candidates and changed their perceptions about the candidates and their policy positions. The findings reveal that respondents who followed the debate felt significantly more informed to make up their minds about the candidates as well as to make their vote decisions, and show that the debate slightly improved their perceptions of the policy positions of those candidates who they had intended to vote for.
- Illiberal democratic attitudes and support for the EU
Are those who support the core values of liberal democracy also more likely to support the European Union? In this article, we study the relationship between EU support and support for the principles of liberal democracy among citizens in the 28 EU member states, using data from the European Election Studies 2019. Our findings demonstrate that supporters of liberal principles of democracy tend to be more supportive of the EU, while supporters of more direct forms of citizen influence are more Eurosceptic. We argue that this may be in part due to the design of the EU with strong institutional checks-and-balances, but a weak link to citizens. Attitudes towards liberal democracy are less structured than previous research suggests. Yet, the structuration of attitudes towards liberal democracy and the association between these attitudes and EU support is stronger in contexts where the role of the institutions of liberal democracy is more contested. This reconfirms that elite cues are essential for the formation of structured mass attitudes.
- Productivity-based retrospective voting: Legislative productivity and voting in the 2019 European Parliament elections
Are European Parliament (EP) elections used to pass judgement on the legislative behaviour of parties serving in the EP? Do Europeans give a bonus in EP elections to political parties whose members were highly active during the legislative term? The article will focus on the role of legislative activities in the eighth EP term (2014–2019) in informing the 2019 vote choice. The analysis combines the European Election Studies (EESs) 2019 Voter Study data with original legislative behaviour data, as well as with data on European electoral systems. The evidence points to productivity-based retrospective voting being a feature of the 2019 elections. Furthermore, the analysis finds that this type of retrospective voting is stronger in countries where electoral rules encourage candidates to promote past legislative records in electoral campaigns, and particularly so for voters that paid attention to the EP campaign in such systems. This has significant implications for the retrospective voting and EU elections literatures, since it is evidence that the very demanding democratic desiderata of retrospection can be met in multi-level and supranational contexts as well.
- Indifferent and Eurosceptic: The motivations of EU-only abstainers in the 2019 European Parliament election
Despite the dramatic voter turnout increase in 2019, the participation level in European Parliament elections is still considerably lower than in national elections. How can we explain this persistent ‘Euro gap’? This article analyses the motivations of citizens who participate in national but not in European electoral contests, the so-called ‘EU-only abstainers’. The empirical analysis based on the EES 2019 voter study reveals that EU-only abstention is driven by low levels of general political interest and EU-specific political sophistication, as well as by distrust towards EU institutions. Therefore, the Euro gap results from the widespread perception that there is ‘less at stake’ during EP elections, but it is also an aggregate-level consequence of individual Eurosceptic attitudes. These findings have important implications for our understanding of present-day European elections and the debate between the two most common theoretical approaches in EP election research.
- The Europeanness of the 2019 European Parliament elections and the mobilising power of European issues
Less researched than the second-order character of elections to the European Parliament (EP) is the ‘Europeanness’ of European elections and its implications for voter participation in these elections. This article aims to fill this gap by studying the Europeanness of the public debate in the run-up to the 2019 EP elections and the mobilising power of European issues in these electoral contests. In doing this, we draw on a new data set covering intriguing aspects of the 2019 EP elections. The findings of the empirical analysis of media and survey data indicate that the elections to the EP were more European contests than ever before in the history of these elections – yet this is not true in the same way for all of the countries under consideration. Moreover, the Europeanness of electorates, measured as genuine orientations towards EU politics, matters for electoral participation and thus has the power to mobilise citizens. Nonetheless, national factors still play an important role in these elections. These findings are insightful for the future assessment of EP elections and the scholarly debate over multi-level electoral politics in Europe.
- Introduction to the special issue: No longer second-order? Explaining the European Parliament elections of 2019
The dominant perspective of European Parliament (EP) elections is that these are second-order national elections where little is at stake. This Special Issue asks whether this perspective is still valid in view of increased politicisation of European integration and in view of the higher turnout levels at the last EP elections. This introduction provides a general framework for the Special Issue and reflects upon some of its main findings. We argue that EP elections can only be considered first-order if they are primarily about the policies, rather than the polity. Some of the contributions in this Special Issue suggest that this is indeed the case. We reflect upon this and argue that there are reasons to expect that EP elections will become first-order elections in the future.
- When do parties put Europe in the centre? Evidence from the 2019 European Parliament election campaign
European elections have been described as second-order phenomena for voters, the media, but also parties. Yet, since 2009, there exists evidence that not only voters, but also political parties assign increasing significance to European elections. While initially ‘issue entrepreneurs’ were held responsible for this development, the latest campaigns have raised the question of whether mainstream parties are finally also campaigning on European issues. In this article, we examine European Union (EU) salience in the 2019 European Parliament (EP) campaigns of government and opposition parties and the predictors of their strategic behaviours. We test the relevance of factors derived from the selective emphasis and the co-orientation approach within an integrated model of strategic campaign communication based on expert evaluations of 191 parties in 28 EU member states. Results show that the traditional expectation that government parties silence EU issues does not hold anymore; instead, the average EU salience of government and opposition parties is similar on the national level. The strongest predictors for a party’s decision to campaign on EU issues are the co-orientation towards the campaign agendas of competing parties, and party’s EU position.
- Still second-order? European elections in the era of populism, extremism, and Euroscepticism
The continued relevance of the second-order elections (SOE) theory is one of the most widely debated issues in the study of European Parliament (EP) elections. While the theory has been criticised from many angles, the recent success of populist, extremist, and Eurosceptic parties raises additional questions about the applicability of a model that depicts EP elections as a low-stakes affair revolving around national issues. This article tests the SOE model with party-level data from all 175 EP elections held between 1979 and 2019. While turnout in EP elections remains well below participation rates in national elections, the 2019 EP elections were marked by a significant reduction in the average turnout gap. Across all election years, party size is the most potent predictor of electoral gains and losses in EP elections. Incumbency is associated with electoral losses in most EP election years. These effects are moderated by the electoral cycle and the electoral system in some but not all years. The expectation that the SOE model performs worse in countries with fragmented party systems was not confirmed. All in all, the SOE model continues to wield significant explanatory power in both the West and the East.
- When do coalitions form under presidentialism, and why does it matter? A configurational analysis from Latin America
This article proposes a new approach to the study of coalition formation in presidential regimes. Drawing on a dataset covering 33 Latin American governments, the article shows that coalition cabinets are, mostly, the product of pre-electoral agreements. I present a six-stage timing of coalition agreements, including four degrees of earliness. Then, I challenge this consideration with the most common – institutional – arguments from the literature about the survival of coalitions in presidential regimes. The findings are quite interesting since they point out that earlier agreements are relevant conditions for enduring coalitions. Moreover, and surprisingly, I show that the institutional argument seems to have been overrated by the literature.
- Populism and the (Italian) crisis: The voters and the context
This article, focusing on Italy, aims to broaden our understanding of the recent striking electoral fortunes of (differing types of) populism in the country, by locating them within multiple crises (political, economic, migration) that have shocked Europe in the last two decades. By combining individual-level survey data on voters with organizational-level interviews conducted with national and local representatives and activists of the Five Star Movement and the League, the role played by these crises in the two different Italian populisms will be disentangled from ‘demand’ and ‘supply’ perspectives – which are usually treated in isolation. The findings indicate a coherence between the political parties’ message and their respective potential voters’ orientations and attitudes (with regard to the three crises), underlining the ability of different varieties of populism to intercept (and mobilize) different grievances: whereas the economic crisis of representation is a key ingredient of both the populists’ success, the cultural crisis is more salient for the exclusionary populist League, while the political crisis is more salient for the inclusionary 5SM. For both the mobilization and representation of those citizens unsatisfied with traditional politics seems crucial. These different causes of success appear to be a useful lens through which to examine the failure of an attempt to govern by combining two differing types of populism.
- Do Spitzenkandidaten debates matter? Effects on voters’ cognitions and evaluations of candidates and issues
The Lisbon Treaty introduced key institutional changes to increase the relevance of elections to the European Parliament (EP). Among these was the ‘Spitzenkandidaten process’, which was introduced with the aim to increase the visibility of the EP elections and mobilise more citizens to turnout to...
- The Politics of Advice
- Unemployment and Industrial Relations
- Women in Congress: A Policy Difference?
- Additional to What? Does the U.K. Government Cheat on the European Regional Development Fund?
- Other Neo-Fascist Strategies: Some Conjectures
- Privatisation and the Fiscal Crisis of the State: Thatcher Contra Offe and O'Connor?
- Regional Decentralisation in France: The Case of Brittany
- The Politics of Coal: Some Aspects of the Miners' Strike
- The Principle of Equality Defended