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On high hopes and disappointment: the broken promises of the 2014 European elections

[journal article]

Iancu, Alexandra

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Abstract Turnout levels in the European elections have been substantially declining over the past decades. The entry into force of new sets of rules and EP prerogatives provided the MEPs with the power to break the chain of dissatisfaction with the EU institutions. The nomination procedure of the Commission Presidency, based on the EP directly elected majorities, brought more legitimacy to the electoral competition. From a symbolic perspective, the Commission became a functional equivalent of a European executive. However, the recent political reforms, instead of boosting political participation and public interest in the EU race, were of little consequence to the electoral mobilization. Moreover, the macro-level electoral results did not particularly alter the balance of power on the European arena. Conversely, the 2014 electoral race brought significant political gains for Eurosceptic or euro-critical parties. The article revisits the main explanatory factors behind the EU "legitimacy crisis": (1) the specificity of the European institutions and the lack of clear and significant choices at the EU level; (2) the "second order" elections thesis and the hybrid articulation of the EU regime (3) the inherent problem of the EU institutional design and political representation. The analysis of the 2014 elections suggests the emergence of a failed "foundational moment" in bringing more legitimacy and political participation at the EU level.
Keywords Western European Union; election result; legitimacy; voter turnout; election campaign; EU; political crisis; European Parliament
Classification Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture
Document language English
Publication Year 2014
Page/Pages p. 299-314
Journal Studia Politica : Romanian Political Science Review, 14 (2014) 3
ISSN 1582-4551
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works