Campaign Effects and Second-Order Cycles - A Top-Down Approach to European Parliament Elections
Title: Campaign Effects and Second-Order Cycles - A Top-Down Approach to European Parliament Elections
Author: WEBER, Till
Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd
Citation: European Union Politics, 2007, 8, 4, 509-536
Second-order elections theory explains cyclical losses by national government parties in elections to the European Parliament (EP) through strategic protest voting owing to performance deficits in policy- making. This paper confronts the conventional bottom-up view with a top-down approach to second-order elections. Ultimately, the electoral cycle is driven not by instrumental voting behaviour but by party strategies oriented towards governmental power in the member states of the European Union. Based on survey data from the European Election Studies of 1999 and 2004, first-order campaign mobilization is shown to determine the prospects of government parties in second-order elections. Mobilization itself depends on the quality of spatial representation in terms of distinct programmatic alternatives, which governments are unable to provide during the midterm. Although this process can be traced on the left-right dimension, parties prevent it with regard to integration issues by systematic demobilization. After all, EP elections are still second order, but first-order politics exert their influence through cyclical campaign mobilization and not through strategic protest voting.
Subject: campaign mobilization; electoral cycle; European Parliament elections; second order elections theory; spatial representation
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