From Maastricht to Brexit by Richard Bellamy and Dario Castiglione

European Parliament Elections: Still Second Order?

Panel Number
Panel Chair
Michael Marsh
Department of Political Science, Trinity College Dublin

Until recently, European elections were often described as second-order national elections. Voters had little interest in European politics, and were unaware of how the outcome of European elections would affect EU policy making. There was no obvious linkage between the composition of the European Parliament and the composition of an executive body, such as the European Commission. So, not knowing what is at stake at the European level, voters voted largely on the basis of their preferences for national parties, based on domestic politics.

However, some things have changed. Because of the financial crisis, there is more attention on European politics. Moreover, even before the crisis, populist (and some other) parties have waged increasing opposition to the European project. Citizens have opposed further steps towards European integration several in referendums (in France, the Netherlands and – sometimes – in Ireland). So, the question is how all of these developments change the nature of European Elections? Do they become less second order? Do they turn into referendums for or against further integration? Or do we see other developments?

Paper List

Comparing Coverage of First-Order and Second-Order Elections: The Czech Republic and Slovakia View Paper Details
From Citizens to Parties, from Parties to Parliaments: Is there a Multilevel Problem? View Paper Details
Second Order Electoral Rules and National Party Systems View Paper Details
Second-Order Media Coverage Leading to Second-Order Elections? View Paper Details
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"History is past politics, and politics is past history" - E.A. Freeman

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