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The Effect of Transformation. Changes in Parties' Structure and Effectiveness of Cues on EU

European Union
Political Parties
Quantitative
Roberto Pannico
Universidade de Lisboa Instituto de Ciências Sociais
Roberto Pannico
Universidade de Lisboa Instituto de Ciências Sociais

Abstract

The paper explores the relation between the strength of party cues on European Union and the change in parties’ electoral structure. People usually rely on party positions on different issues as heuristics for structuring their own positions on the same issues. This is particularly true in those cases where electors are not well informed about the issue on debate as in the case of European integration process. European Union is usually perceived as a distant political system, and its particular and complex functioning does not facilitate the comprehension of EU’s politics by European citizens. For this reason, voters are particularly dependent on political parties for their attitudes toward integration process. However, not all parties can exert the same degree of influence on their voters. For being received, a party cue needs to be stated by a “clear” source. Political parties that incur frequent changes in structure like splits, merges, changes of list, etc. risk to debilitate the effectiveness of their messages. It is unlikely that citizens take their cues about EU from these changeable parties, because they are not clearly identifiable and for this reason people do not consider them a reliable source of cues. This moderator effect creates a difference in persuasive power between different political parties and/or different party systems.