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EU Issue Voting and the 2014 EP Election Campaign: A Dynamic Perspective

European Union
Populism
Campaign
Electoral Behaviour
Euroscepticism
Voting Behaviour
Andreas Goldberg
Norwegian University of Science & Technology, Trondheim
Claes De Vreese
University of Amsterdam
Andreas Goldberg
Norwegian University of Science & Technology, Trondheim
Erika Van Elsas
University of Amsterdam
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Abstract

With the unprecedented surge in support for Eurosceptic parties, the outcome of the 2014 European Parliament elections has been widely interpreted as the result of increasing public Euroscepticism. Indeed, contrary to the familiar second order model of EP elections (i.e. voters base their vote choice on national shortcuts), recent studies have found that EU attitudes were an important determinant of vote choice in European elections (Hobolt, 2015; Hobolt & De Vries, 2016). Yet, studies have also shown that such ‘EU issue voting’ is conditional upon the extent to which there is visible partisan conflict and whether the EU is salient to voters (De Vries, 2010; Van Spanje & De Vreese, 2011) – conditions which are likely to vary with time, depending on how high ‘Europe’ stands on the political agenda. This raises the question how stable the effect of EU attitudes on vote preferences is over time, and particularly whether it increases over the course of the EP election campaign. The latter is probable given the importance of campaigns as a context for the politicization of EU-related attitudes. Research to date has used cross-sectional post-election studies, and hence we know little of the dynamics in EU issue voting during a campaign. Our study fills this gap by using a four-wave panel survey collected during the Dutch EP elections campaign of 2014 to assess how EU attitudes affect vote preferences over the course of the campaign and eventually the final vote. We address three questions. First, does the effect of EU attitudes on vote intentions increase in the course of the campaign? Second, are different parties, i.e. pro/anti EU parties or populist parties, affected differently by this dynamic? Third, in line with recent scholarship on the multidimensionality of EU attitudes, how do campaign dynamics vary for different dimensions of EU attitudes?