After yesterday’s European Parliament decision, we are now exactly one year away from the start of European Parliament elections 2014. A good time to look into academic research on the past elections.
In a similar direction, The Journal of Political Marketing (Issue 1, 2013) has recently published a series of four articles coverin campaign news coverage, journalists’ source use, campaign foci and Eurosceptic campaigning during the 2009 European election campaign. new media & society (Issue 1, 2013) also has two articles on web campaigning in 2009.
But while these are just the most recent outputs in academic research, there’s more to look into. Electoral Studies (Issue 1, 2011) covered a symposium on electoral democracy in the EU. Articles published in this issue deal with the second-order nature of EP elections, the role of information voters’ decisions, party conflicts covered in the news, individual campaigns as well as low turnout.
On the side of the media-related studies, there’s also more, including research on individual campaign blogs, on national elections overshadowing the EP elections, on the not-so-strategic use of the internet in UK campaigning, on differences in campaign professionalisation in Finland, Sweden, Austria and Germany during the 2009 EP elections, on Twitter in the Dutch 2009 EP campaign, on party websites in Western and Southern EU countries
A German study published in 2010 found that higher turnout would actually not change the composition of the European Parliament. A study by Spanish-German mathematicians traced the calculations of EP seats based on the 27 electoral laws. Research on the determinants of candidates’ list position in Romania revealed that electoral experience and wealth seemed to be quite important.
UK studies cannot ignore UKIP’s 2009 electoral success. Swedish studies cannot ignore the Pirate Party success. Estonian studies cannot ignore the success of individual candidates in Estonia in 2009. There’s also some work on the Austrian campaign. And on the Irish campaign. Not to forget Portugal and the True Finns in Finland.
There’s also research on the Greek part of the 2009 EP elections and on media coverage in Italy in 2009. In a much wider scope, this article looks into main campaign issues all across Southern Europe. The Romanian results are discussed here, the Hungarian EP elections here.
Simon Hix devoted some space for an essay on the failure of social democracy in 2009, while Isabelle Hertner analysed whether member state socialist parties’ campaigns had been “Europeanised” (not really). Others took a look at the Green’s differing success across Europe. There’s also studies on ethnic minority parties in Central and Eastern Europe, e.g. in Lithuania.
Other research finds that the preferences of voters and the preferences of MEPs do not necessarily overlap, especially relating to cultural aspects where MEPs seem to be much more liberal than their voters. On the other hand, Italian research argues that the preferences of member parties of the EU-level parties are quite coherent internally while they contrast to members of other Europarties (in a left-right & anti-pro EU space).
Christina Chiva researched the selection of female EP election candidates in new EU member states More recent research studies this phenomenon for all the EU countries. And related research looks into more general selection criteria for candidates in 12 EU countries, gender being just one of the aspects covered.
Now, that’s just a selection of studies one can find with a quick research on Google Scholar. Reading all these can give a hint at how and why we may or may not observe certain phenomena ahead of and during the 2014 European Parliament elections. What is obvious is that there has been quite some interest in the past EP elections, and the diversity of potential views and the variety of researchers involves actually allows a quite complex picture of what is a quite complex political process.
In my view, research on the 2014 EP elections actually should start now, because many decisions on substance and on persons are taken now, campaign strategies are starting to evolve and the attention to 2014 is slowly rising (at least in an EU attention scale). The next EP elections will definitely be different to the last ones, and it will be academic research that might be able to establish why and how.
PS: Please feel free to share any interesting research not covered in this post in the comments below.
Disclaimer: I work for the Transparency International EU Office, including on issues relating to the (financing) rules for European Political Parties ahead of the 2014 European Parliament elections. These thoughts are published in my private capacity, following earlier blog posts such as this one. or this one.