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Evaluations of the Spitzenkandidaten: the Role of Information and News Exposure in Citizens' Preference Formation

[journal article]

Gattermann, Katjana; Vreese, Claes H. de; Brug, Wouter van der

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Please use the following Persistent Identifier (PID) to cite this document:http://doi.org/10.17645/pag.v4i1.460

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Abstract The 2014 European Parliament (EP) elections were characterised by a novel element in European Union (EU) politics. For the first time, the major European party families put forward top candidates for President of the European Commission, the so-called Spitzenkandidaten. This paper tests whether this innovation had the potential to - at least partially - alleviate the alleged accountability deficit. We rely on original survey data to assess citizens’ preferences for each of the main Spitzenkandidaten: Jean-Claude Juncker, Martin Schulz, and Guy Verhofstadt. Our research is guided by three questions: what explains whether citizens formulate a preference for a certain Spitzenkandidat? Which factors are responsible for variations in such preferences? And, are these explanations moderated by citizens’ political awareness? We show that three factors enable citizens to formulate a preference for the Spitzenkandidaten: news exposure, general EU political information, and campaign-specific information about the Spitzenkandidaten. Furthermore, we demonstrate that only the most knowledgeable citizens are able to use party cues in their evaluations of the Spitzenkandidaten. The implications of our findings are discussed with reference to the EU’s democratic deficit debate. (auhtor's abstract)
Keywords EU; European Parliament; election to the European Parliament; parliamentary election; election campaign; candidacy; nomination of candidates; European Commission; president; party; preference; voter; voting behavior; mobilization; political attitude; formulation of political objectives; personalization
Classification Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture; European Politics
Document language English
Publication Year 2016
Page/Pages p. 37-54
Journal Politics and Governance, 4 (2016) 1
Issue topic How Different Were the European Elections of 2014?
ISSN 2183-2463
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution