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ECPR Journals Virtual Special Issue

The Justification of Parties’ Positions on European Issues in EP Election Debates

European Politics
European Union
Political Parties
Comparative Perspective
European Parliament
Beatrice Eugster
Universität Bern
Beatrice Eugster
Universität Bern

This paper focuses on election debates and investigates how political parties justify their positions towards different European issues. By doing this, it combines two insights from recent research in the national context and applies them to the European elections: first, that parties use different argumentations, e.g., cultural or economic justifications, to support the same positions towards European integration and, second, that European issues are not just about European integration per se, but more diverse including various policy-related socio-economic and cultural issues (e.g., EU debt, EU border protection policies) along constitutive EU issues. To analyse how justifications are related to different types of EU issues, along with party ideology and the structural position of parties in the political system, the analysis draws on a quantitative content analysis of press releases published in the run-up to the 2014 EP election in seven European countries (Austria, France, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Portugal and the United Kingdom). The results neither provide support for a clear pattern regarding the role of structural party position nor the mere party family hypothesis that right-wing parties rely more often on identity-related justifications, while left-wing parties use more often economic-related justification. Instead the type of issue together with party family matters how European issues are justified.
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