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Party debate over Europe in national election campaigns: electoral disunityand party cohesion
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6613-4242
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science.
2016 (English)In: European Journal of Political Research, ISSN 0304-4130, E-ISSN 1475-6765, Vol. 55, no 2, 265-282 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Few political parties are willing to lead the public debate on how the European Union should develop and parties rarely publicly discuss issues on the EU agenda. This is probably one of the most important democratic problems in the contemporary EU. When and why parties are willing (or not willing) to discuss European cooperation is therefore an essential issue in which political science should engage. Previous research has shown that parties that are internally divided on EU issues downplay these issues in order to avoid internal disputes. At the same time, parties that have severe intraparty conflicts over the issue are unable to contain the debate. Thus, parties that are unified in their position on EU issues and parties that are heavily split speak about the EU, but others do not. Also, earlier research has shown that political parties downplay issues in response to internal divisions among their supporters. It is argued in this article that the focus should not be solely on intraparty conflict or whether or not a party's voters are hesitant or disunited, but rather on how these factors interact in order to better understand how parties act strategically regarding EU issues. Using a new dataset that relies on quantitative content analysis of quality newspapers during the national election campaigns in the period 1983–2010 in France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Sweden, it is found that parties that have a high degree of internal dissent on European issues, while at the same time having an equally divided electorate, are the parties that are most present in the public debate. Hence, it is the interaction between these two important factors that explains much of the variation in the amount of attention paid to European issues in national election campaigns.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 55, no 2, 265-282 p.
Keyword [en]
European issues, intraparty dissent, salience, political parties, voter opinions
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-112708DOI: 10.1111/1475-6765.12125ISI: 000374507300004OAI: diva2:882276
Representative Democracy in EuropeThe Politicization of Europe - A comparative study of six West European countries, 1970-2010
Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation, MMW 2011.003German Research Foundation (DFG)
Available from: 2015-12-14 Created: 2015-12-14 Last updated: 2016-06-22Bibliographically approved

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