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Making Eurosceptics: The Media’s Role in Constructing a Pan-European Eurosceptic Narrative during the 2014 European Parliament Elections

Elections
European Politics
European Union
Media
Michael Bossetta
University of Copenhagen
Michael Bossetta
University of Copenhagen
Anamaria Dutceac Segesten
Lunds Universitet

Abstract

The 2014 EP elections resulted in increasing support for Eurosceptic parties in 23 of 28 Member States (Treib 2014). However, these parties varied in their ideologies, degree of Euroscepticism, and domestic agendas. Despite the diversity of these parties and varying levels of electoral success, the general picture emerging from the media reporting has been, we argue, one of unity: the rise of a uniform Eurosceptic wave across the continent. We hypothesize that national media were key actors in constructing a pan-European Eurosceptic narrative from disparate national cases. By linking together diverse national phenomena into a common Eurosceptic narrative, the media contributed to a process of Europeanization, i.e. when discourses about Europe penetrate national public spheres. We test our hypothesis through the study of national print media coverage about the EP elections in six countries (Spain, France, Denmark, Sweden, United Kingdom, and Ireland) during the month of May 2014. To account for the structural and cultural differences in media systems, we choose two countries from each media system put forth by Hallin and Mancini (2004). Each pair of cases includes one party where Eurosceptic parties had immense success (France, Denmark, United Kingdom), and another where Eurosceptics did not fare exceptionally well (Spain, Sweden, Ireland). For each country, we select a one highly circulated quality press and one tabloid. The purpose of the sampling is to include a highly diversified range of Eurosceptic positions, while controlling for media system variation. We perform a qualitative content analysis for references to Eurosceptic parties, categorizing how the term Eurosceptic was used and in what context (national or European). We also uncover what proportion of national print coverage was devoted to the 2014 EP elections, and more specifically, a narrative of rising Euroscepticism.