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Does politicization matter for EU representation? A comparison of four European Parliament elections

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DateAccepted/In press - 8 Jul 2020
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 5 Nov 2020
Number of pages18
Early online date5/11/20
Original languageEnglish


What is the effect of politicisation on EU representation? We empirically test two competing views through a focus on party-voter congruence, i.e. whether parties share the policy preferences of their voters. The first perspective expects that the process of politicisation –either through party or media contestation– would improve party-voter agreement. The second perspective argues that politicisation has not improved the supply of partisan debate with parties still not offering satisfactory options to voters who are primarily driven by protest-based considerations; and as such does not expect an effect. We analyse congruence on the left-right and pro-anti-EU dimensions, capturing questions related to EU policy and polity, respectively. Our examination of four European Parliament elections (1999-2014) and 341 parties across 53 electoral contexts points to the limited effect of politicisation upon representation. Our findings have significant implications for the study of EU politicisation and representation and open up avenues for future research.

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