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When Second-Order Elections Come First: Campaign Communication Dynamics in Sweden The ’Super Election’ Year 2014

Konferensbidrag (offentliggjort, men ej förlagsutgivet)
Författare Marie Grusell
Lars Nord
Publicerad i ECREA Political Communication Conference, Centre for Journalism, University of Southern Denmark, August 2015
Publiceringsår 2015
Publicerad vid Institutionen för journalistik, medier och kommunikation (JMG)
Språk en
Ämnesord Election campaigns, EP elections, ‘second-order’ elections, Sweden
Ämneskategorier Statsvetenskap, Medie- och kommunikationsvetenskap


European parliamentary elections are commonly referred to as ‘second-order’ elections in political communication literature. The main argument in labelling them as second-order is based on the fact that EP elections normally are characterized by ‘low-key’ campaigns where not so much seems to be at stake for political parties, voters and the media. Campaign expenditures are lower; media coverage is modest compared to national elections and voter turnout figures are, in most countries, considerably lower. There is an overwhelming empirical support for the idea of describing EP elections as second-order compared to national elections. Still, there it not clear how EP elections campaigns are performed in cases where they are followed by national elections during the same year. However, it is plausible to believe that the campaigns, in such cases, may be intertwined and related to each other as political communication actors come to the conclusion that more is at stake when EP elections are a kind of pre-test when they occur close before elections that are perceived as more politically important. On the other hand, some political parties may still prefer low-key campaigning as a more successful strategy and focus on the most important elections. This paper intends to shed new light on this issue by analysing party campaign communications and media coverage during the EP elections and The National Elections in Sweden in 2014 and the interplay between the two elections. The study is based on personal interviews with party campaign managers in parties represented in the EP parliament and the Swedish parliament, party surveys on campaign structures and campaign strategies and media content analysis of leading national newspapers and TV news during the final three weeks of both campaigns.

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