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Priming Europe: Media effects on loyalty, voice and exit in European Parliament elections

Journal article
Authors H. Giebler
S. Kritzinger
Georgios Xezonakis
S. Banducci
Published in Acta Politica
Volume 52
Issue 1
Pages 110-132
ISSN 0001-6810
Publication year 2017
Published at Quality of Government Institute (QoG)
Department of Political Science
Pages 110-132
Language en
Keywords EU coverage, EU issue voting, governing party, news media, voting calculus
Subject categories Political Science


Parties in government face a decline in EP elections after experiencing a surge in votes to win the national election. This occurs because voters are more inclined to give voice to their dissatisfaction with current government performance by voting for the opposition or exiting because less is at stake in second-order elections. These elections negatively affect the electoral fortunes of governing parties as voters opt to punish poorly performing national governments in EP elections. Meanwhile, greater reliance on the EU issue dimension in vote choice models is taken as evidence for the increasing Europeanisation of EP elections. We examine the role of the media in making the EU issue dimension salient in such a way that government parties may benefit electorally from this increased saliency. To examine whether visibility of government party actors in media coverage increases loyalty for the governing parties either directly or via priming the EU issues for voters, we combine survey data from the 2009 European Election Studies with data on news coverage of those elections that links the governing party to the EU issue. We show that where the government is visible in EU news coverage, EU issue voting tends to increase loyalty while decreasing the probability to vote for the opposition and thus improves the electoral prospects for governing parties. This is even more the case if the issue is primed by negative campaign coverage. © 2016 Macmillan Publishers Ltd.

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