Focusing the Mind? How the European Union Affects Issue Coverage in National Elections
Title: Focusing the Mind? How the European Union Affects Issue Coverage in National Elections
Author: NANOU, Kyriaki
Series/Report no.: EUI MWP; 2011/16
It is commonplace to assume that what determines the coverage of issues in parties’ political agendas are domestic factors such as their own issue priorities and those of their political rivals, the attention devoted by the mass media and the importance of issues to the wider electorate. However, we know very little about what can explain how issue coverage evolves over time. Do certain issues receive constant attention over time, whereas others receive more or less coverage over time? By focusing on the effect of delegation to the EU-level institutions as an external influence, this paper aims to explain whether issue coverage is more or less impervious to change. It examines the impact of increasing delegation of policymaking to the EU institutions on the coverage of issues in parties’ manifestos. It expects that, as policy competence shifts from the national to the EU level in a range of policy domains, parties place less emphasis on those issues and instead focus competition on issues where policy-making authority is largely retained by the member states. The effect is expected to vary across those groups of issues classified as either ‘principled’ or ‘pragmatic’. These expectations are tested by using ordinary least-squares (OLS) regression to analyse references to 16 issues in manifesto data covering elections from 1968-2005. The analysis involves 18 European countries.
Subject: Party competition; party manifestos; issue coverage; European integration; policy delegation
Type of Access: openAccess