National or European?: EP Election Campaign Themes in the News Media

Jan Kovář, Kamil Kovář

Abstract:

According to the dominant framework, European Parliament (EP) elections are second-order elections, in essence national contests ‘by other means’. They are not about the personalities and parties at the European level, or the direction of the EU policy agenda; instead, they are fought over domestic rather than European issues and topics, and the political parties collude to keep the issue of Europe off the domestic agenda. This paper aims to analyse one aspect of the second-order election (SOE) model, namely the fact that national political issues and concerns dominate SOE campaigns. We focus on EP election campaigns as portrayed in the news media based on a premise that large proportion of election campaigns consists of media coverage. Based on a content and thematic analysis (N = 434), the article integrates the second-order election model with media behaviours. The results show that, indeed, national political themes and domestic geographic scope dominate the EP election campaign in the media. The findings and their implications are discussed in the light of relevant literature.

Key words:

European Parliament elections; second-order elections; media; campaign; Europeanisation

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