Hostname: page-component-5d59c44645-7l5rh Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-02-29T00:43:55.579Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Time is on my side? The temporal proximity between elections and parties’ salience strategies

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 August 2022

Martin Gross*
Affiliation:
Geschwister Scholl Institute of Political Science, Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich, Munich, Germany
Mihail Chiru
Affiliation:
Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK Median Research Centre, Bucharest, Romania
Rights & Permissions [Opens in a new window]

Abstract

The emphasis national parties put on European Union (EU) issues in their manifestos varies to a great extent between countries. A systematic explanation of this variation is, however, still lacking. We address this gap by exploring the effect of the temporal proximity between national and European Parliament (EP) elections within the national electoral cycle on national parties’ EU issue emphasis. Multilevel mixed-effects Tobit regressions on a sample of 956 manifestos, produced by 340 parties running for national elections in 27 EU member states between 1979 and 2019, indicate that temporal proximity displays a positive effect on national parties’ EU issue salience: the closer in time EP elections are to national elections within the national electoral cycle, the more parties emphasize EU issues in their national election manifestos. This is particularly the case for non-Eurosceptic parties. These findings have important implications for our understanding of party competition in EU member states.

Type
Research Article
Creative Commons
Creative Common License - CCCreative Common License - BYCreative Common License - NCCreative Common License - ND
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is unaltered and is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use or in order to create a derivative work.
Copyright
© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of European Consortium for Political Research

Introduction

European Union (EU) issues have gained increasing importance in election campaigns in European democracies in recent years (see Hutter and Grande, Reference Hutter and Grande2014; Hellström and Blomgren, Reference Hellström and Blomgren2016), although the issue of European integration is still ‘moderately politicized at best’ (Hoeglinger, Reference Hoeglinger2016, p. 54) and the saliency of EU issues for parties in national election campaigns is low (Steenbergen and Scott, Reference Steenbergen, Scott, Marks and Steenbergen2004; Pennings, Reference Pennings2006; Netjes and Binnema, Reference Netjes and Binnema2007; Green-Pedersen, Reference Green-Pedersen2019). Moreover, ‘parties put less emphasis on EU matters in national election manifestos than in Euromanifestos, whereas they take a rather similar position towards the EU in both electoral arenas’ (Braun and Schmitt, Reference Braun and Schmitt2020). The authors explain these findings by the different strategies pursued by parties in multilevel electoral systems because there are different issues at stake in elections for the European Parliament (EP) and the national parliament, that is, parties see EU matters as more important in EP than in national elections.

Yet it is unclear if this mechanism regarding the salience of EU issues in national and EP elections works uniformly for all party manifestos drafted for national and EP elections, regardless of their temporal proximity. We argue that this is not the case. Rather, the time span between national and EP elections within the national electoral cycle should matter for parties’ emphasis of EU issues, that is, the temporal proximity of national and EP elections works as both a direct and a conditioning factor on national parties’ EU issue emphasis.

Although the extant literature includes variables capturing temporal aspects of party competition (e.g. previous party positions, issue emphasis, and positional shifts), these factors are all located at the same level of analysis, that is, variables at the national level are compared with other variables at the national level. Yet parties organized in multilevel systems will also react to external events, electoral results, and the electoral cycle at other levels of the political system (see e.g. Reif, Reference Reif1984; Weber, Reference Weber2007). Moreover, election manifestos are not written in isolation from each other but rather with an eye on content, positions, and issue emphasis of manifestos at other political levels, especially if elections are sufficiently close in time (Däubler, Reference Däubler2012; Braun and Schmitt, Reference Braun and Schmitt2020).

We provide novel evidence on time-related aspects determining parties’ EU issue emphasis strategies in their national election manifestos. We build on existing studies analysing the determinants of EU salience in party manifestos (Pennings, Reference Pennings2006; Netjes and Binnema, Reference Netjes and Binnema2007; Braun and Schmitt, Reference Braun and Schmitt2020), and we expand the geographical focus to Central and Eastern European (CEE) as well as Southern European EU member states. This matters because some authors argue that their results would not apply to parties in CEE countries due to the different patterns of EU-related party competition (Hoeglinger, Reference Hoeglinger2016, p. 58). By relying on 956 observations (party manifestos per national election) from 340 parties running for national elections in 27 EU member states between 1979 and 2019, we explore the direct and conditioning effect of the temporal proximity of national and EP elections, within the national electoral cycle, on political parties’ emphasis of EU issues in their national election manifestos.

The results show that time-related aspects matter for the explanation of parties’ salience strategies in national election manifestos: the further away EP elections are from national elections starting the national electoral cycle, the less emphasis parties put on EU issues in their national election manifestos (a negative effect of around 34%). Furthermore, this cycle position of EP elections tends to condition EU issue emphasis strategies of Eurosceptic and non-Eurosceptic parties differently: the further away EP elections are from national elections within the national electoral cycle, the more Eurosceptic parties emphasize EU issues in their manifestos, compared to non-Eurosceptic parties (around 54% more), while temporal proximity diminishes these differences.

National parties’ election manifestos and the saliency of EU issues

Parties draft election manifestos for at least three reasons (see e.g. Däubler, Reference Däubler2012; Eder et al., Reference Eder, Jenny and Müller2017; Harmel, Reference Harmel2018; Harmel et al., Reference Harmel, Tan, Janda and Smith2018). Firstly, by summarizing their policy positions and making election promises on important issues, parties provide citizens with a document which might serve as a basis for their voting decisions. Secondly, election manifestos serve intra-party purposes by signalling parties’ main campaign positions and issues not only to voters but also to party members and supporters. Thirdly, these documents are guidelines for parties’ post-electoral bargaining on government formation and can be considered as ‘authoritative’ and ‘representative statements for the whole party’ (Klingemann et al., Reference Klingemann, Volkens, Bara, Budge and McDonald2006, p. 164).Footnote 1

Manifestos are widely used to analyse parties’ policy positions, their emphasis of specific issues, and their responsiveness to voter preferences (for an overview see e.g. Adams, Reference Adams2012; Budge, Reference Budge2015; Fagerholm, Reference Fagerholm2016). The ways in which parties respond to voter demands have been investigated from two angles: position and salience. Parties try to adopt policy positions that are closely related to voter preferences (see e.g. Stimson et al., Reference Stimson, MacKuen and Erikson1995; Ezrow et al., Reference Ezrow, De Vries, Steenbergen and Edwards2011). Additionally, parties emphasize policy issues in their manifestos that are salient for voters (see e.g. Spoon and Klüver, Reference Spoon and Klüver2014; Klüver and Sagarzazu, Reference Klüver and Sagarzazu2016). In this contribution, we will focus on the second strategy – the varying degree of issue emphasis, that is saliency.

One core assumption of salience theory is that parties strategically choose to manipulate the saliency of issues (Budge and Farlie, Reference Budge and Farlie1983; Klingemann et al., Reference Klingemann, Hofferbert and Budge1994; Budge et al., Reference Budge, Klingemann, Volkens, Bara and Tanenbaum2001). Parties can ‘own’ issues (Petrocik, Reference Petrocik1996) – due to their prior performance and history (Seeberg, Reference Seeberg2017) – or they might promote issues that have been previously ignored (De Vries and Hobolt Reference De Vries and Hobolt2020). We follow this line of research and argue that the emphasis put on EU issues in national parties’ election manifestos will co-vary with several contextual and political variables.

EU issues have undoubtedly gained importance in national election campaigns in recent decades, even though the extent to which these issues are politicized is still contested (see De Vries, Reference De Vries2007; Kriesi, Reference Kriesi2007; Green-Pedersen, Reference Green-Pedersen2012, Reference Green-Pedersen2019; Hutter and Grande, Reference Hutter and Grande2014; Hoeglinger, Reference Hoeglinger2016; Gross and Schäfer, Reference Gross, Schäfer, Bukow and Jun2020). On the one hand, this comes as no surprise since national elections are still mainly about domestic issues. On the other hand, this raises the question of why we would even expect parties to address EU issues in their national election manifestos in the first place. National politics in European countries is more and more intertwined with EU issues. EU directives, EU national and regional transfer of money as well as EU crises have an impact on domestic politics and citizens’ everyday lives. Consequently, we would argue that national parties cannot ignore the European political sphere and must address EU issues in their manifestos.

Previous research shows that parties do emphasize EU issues to a much lesser extent than other issues in their national election manifestos. This is particularly the case for large, mainstream parties (Green-Pedersen, Reference Green-Pedersen2012, Reference Green-Pedersen2019) or dominant parties (De Vries and Hobolt, Reference De Vries and Hobolt2020). The main explanatory factor for why parties put more emphasis on EU issues in their national election manifestos is the salience of EU issues at the party system level (see e.g. Steenbergen and Scott, Reference Steenbergen, Scott, Marks and Steenbergen2004; Netjes and Binnema, Reference Netjes and Binnema2007). Yet these findings based on manifesto data only explain differences in national parties’ EU issue emphasis between countries, not within a country. We therefore add an additional argument that sheds light on the differences in national parties’ EU issue emphasis both between countries and within a country: the temporal proximity of national parliamentary elections and EP elections within the national electoral cycle.

Temporal proximity of national and EP elections and parties’ EU issue emphasis in national election manifestos

The rationale for our temporal proximity argument has two aspects. First, even though manifestos tend to get longer over time (see e.g. Dolezal et al., Reference Dolezal, Ennser-Jedenastik, Müller and Winkler2012), there is a limit to how many finely detailed policy issues parties can emphasize. Parties must decide which issues they want to highlight, and which pledges they want to include (also with regard to post-electoral bargaining on government formation). Second, drafting manifestos can be time-consuming for the party organization, especially in parties that have a long process from drafting the first version of the manifesto, to consulting party activists and party factions, to adopting the final manifesto in a congress (see Däubler, Reference Däubler2012; Braun et al., Reference Braun, Popa and Schmitt2019).

Since manifestos are to a large extent not re-used from one election to the other but heavily updated, parties must allocate resources for drafting manifestos for each and every new election, be it at the European, national, or sub-national level (see Dolezal et al., Reference Dolezal, Ennser-Jedenastik, Müller and Winkler2012). We argue that if two elections at different layers of a multilevel political system are close in time, then parties need to decide which issues they will focus on in their respective manifestos because the process of manifesto preparation is not happening simultaneously (Däubler, Reference Däubler2012, pp. 55–56). Regarding national parties’ considerations when drafting EP election manifestos, they ‘are expected to respond to the problem agenda in their immediate national environment, not least because it is on the national level that they are rewarded or punished for their campaign communication’ (Braun et al., Reference Braun, Popa and Schmitt2019, p. 802). Hence, national parties emphasize many national issues in their EP election manifestos. However, we argue that this argument could also be flipped around: if EP and national elections happen close to each other, national parties must also consider European issues in their national election manifestos.

Nevertheless, parties still focus much more on national than on European issues in both their national and EP election manifestos (see e.g. Braun and Schmitt, Reference Braun and Schmitt2020) because they mainly mobilize their voters in first-order election campaigns (Weber, Reference Weber2007) and, therefore, also focus more on first-order than on second-order election issues to maximize their electoral support. Yet, although EP elections are still considered ‘second-order’ elections (Reif and Schmitt, Reference Reif and Schmitt1980; Corbett, Reference Corbett2014; Däubler et al., Reference Däubler, Chiru and Hermansen2022) – and voters continue to use them as an opportunity to punish domestic governments, engage in protest voting, vote sincerely for small parties, or experiment with new ones (Reif, Reference Reif1984; Weber, Reference Weber2007) – the European content of these elections has increased in recent decades compared to the 1980s and 1990s (Steenbergen and Scott, Reference Steenbergen, Scott, Marks and Steenbergen2004; Senninger and Wagner, Reference Senninger and Wagner2015). With regard to national parties’ position-taking on and emphasis of EU issues, parties actually try to ‘demobilize’ voters in domestic election campaigns (Weber, Reference Weber2007, p. 523 emphasis in original). Due to their internal conflicts about European integration issues (see e.g. Hix and Lord, Reference Hix and Lord1997; Lynch and Whitaker, Reference Lynch and Whitaker2013), or because they benefit from not politicizing EU integration, parties intentionally apply a strategy of de-emphasizing such issues in domestic election campaigns when national and EP elections are close in time (Weber, Reference Weber2007, pp. 523–524). Weber’s findings on voters’ perceptual agreement regarding parties’ positions on EU integration (party-level aggregates of individual-level survey data) seem indeed to indicate that the ‘logic of demobilization [on the EU integration dimension] is most effective in the run-up to a first-order election’ (Weber, Reference Weber2007, p. 524).

The varying impact of the temporal proximity of first-order (national) and second-order (EP) elections is a recurrent topic in the literature on voter behaviour and electoral cycles in multilevel systems, because EP elections ‘take place at different moments of their respective national (first-order) electoral cycles’ (Reif, Reference Reif1984, p. 248; see also Weber and Franklin, Reference Weber and Franklin2018, p. 833). This literature and its empirical insights, however, primarily deals with national parties’ strategies during election campaigns, whereas our argument is based on national parties’ strategies for writing manifestos. We acknowledge that national parties may have incentives to decrease their EU issue emphasis in their national election campaigns because voters mainly care about domestic issues in these first-order elections; however, due to the increase in the intertwining of politics at the national and supranational level, and because national government parties will be represented in the various EU institutions, we argue that national parties must address EU issues in their national election manifestos more than they do during their campaigns. The German parties’ election campaigns for the federal elections in 2021 provide an example of this divergence in manifesto issue emphasis and campaign strategy. Even though, on average, parties’ manifestos contained around three percent of content referring positively to European topics – and this value is even higher when factoring in the Alternative for Germany’s additional six percent of manifesto content that refers to European topics negatively (see Burst et al., Reference Burst, Lehmann, Regel and Zehnter2021, pp. 5–6) – European issues did not play a role during the electoral campaigns (see Faas and Klingelhöfer, Reference Faas and Klingelhöfer2022).

The closer national elections are to EP elections, the more parties are inclined to concentrate more on European issues in their national election manifestos. When an EP election is on the horizon, the media will increase its coverage of parties’ positioning on and emphasis of EU issues in their national election manifestos, and parties do want to shape the public agenda with their electoral programme (on this manifesto-media link see Merz, Reference Merz2017a,b).Footnote 2

The close succession of national and EP elections can make EU issues more salient to voters because of priming by media, opinion leaders, or political elites (Rauh, Reference Rauh2015; Schulte-Cloos, Reference Schulte-Cloos2018). This priming often takes the form of emphasizing the national executive’s EU-related responsibilities and powers. Since member state governments decide on EU constitutive issues, both the media and more informed voters could reasonably expect to learn of parties’ plans for the overall pace of integration, enlargement, and other EU polity-related issues from national election manifestos. This increased saliency of the EU for voters, facilitated by increased media coverage of EU issues (Hutter and Kriesi, Reference Hutter and Kriesi2019), could also alter parties’ calculations of the costs of ignoring EU issues in national contests that happen close to EP elections. The plausibility of such adaptation is strengthened by the finding that temporal proximity of national and European elections leads to an increase in parties’ responsiveness to citizens’ issue priorities as indicated by parties’ issue emphasis in manifestos (Spoon and Klüver, Reference Spoon and Klüver2014).

Temporal proximity could also affect EU saliency through a different mechanism. Unlike other issues, such as health care or the environment, the party ownership of EU-related issues is contested in several member states (Guinaudeau and Persico, Reference Guinaudeau and Persico2013). When an EP election takes place in close succession to the national election, all parties with a stake in EU issue ownership would anticipate a higher level of EU attention from competitors and would be incentivized to reassert their ownership claims via increased EU salience in their manifestos. This could spill over even for parties which do not compete over EU issue ownership. As Seeberg (Reference Seeberg2022, p. 291) has shown: ‘high and consistent attention from all rival parties and proximity to an election’ makes parties engage with their rivals’ agendas. While his findings are restricted to one type of party communication (press releases) the same logic should apply to manifestos.

Therefore, we expect parties to increase the space assigned to EU issues in national election manifestos when an EP election is imminent. The latter point is crucial for our argument. We expect parties to draft their manifestos mostly in a present- and future-oriented manner, meaning that they will include the time span to the next EP election in their considerations, but not previously held EP elections. The general idea that manifestos are forward looking has recently been corroborated empirically by an analysis of the temporal focus of national parties’ election manifestos in various countries, showing that, on average, less than ten percent of a manifesto focuses on the past (see Müller, Reference Müller2022). Thus, our first hypothesis reads as follows:

Hypothesis 1: The closer a national election is to the next EP election within the national electoral cycle, the more will parties emphasize European issues in their national election manifestos.

Euroscepticism and the temporal proximity of national and EP elections

We also argue that the temporal proximity of European and national elections contributes to the reduction of differences between Eurosceptic and non-Eurosceptic parties’ EU issue emphasis. Eurosceptic parties should emphasize EU issues more than non-Eurosceptic parties at all types of elections because they want to signal that they provide a political alternative for voters unsatisfied with the consensus of mainstream parties in favour of further European integration (Hoeglinger, Reference Hoeglinger2016). It is in their direct interest to ‘keep the [EU integration] issue alive and on the political agenda’ (Steenbergen and Scott, Reference Steenbergen, Scott, Marks and Steenbergen2004, p. 189). Since most Eurosceptic parties are not ‘traditionally successful parties’, they also ‘benefit from emphasizing their relatively distinctive, and potentially, extreme issue positions’ (Basu, Reference Basu2020, p. 456) on the EU. This strategic choice also allows them to blur their positions on other policy dimensions, on which their stances might be less popular, or on which they might be perceived as less competent than other parties. Even though second-order elections, such as sub-national or supranational elections, are a good opportunity for Eurosceptic parties to attract voters (Gross and Jankowski, Reference Gross and Jankowski2020; Schulte-Cloos, Reference Schulte-Cloos2018), the mere fact of ‘being Eurosceptic’ is a brand claim for such parties which they should play out at all political levels on which they compete. Therefore, at the national level as well, Eurosceptic parties should emphasize EU issues in their manifestos more than other parties (see also Senninger and Wagner, Reference Senninger and Wagner2015).Footnote 3 This assumption is complemented by the notion that non-Eurosceptic, mainstream parties do not want to put EU issues on the political agenda and de-emphasize these issues as much as they can (see e.g. De Vries and Hobolt, Reference De Vries and Hobolt2020; Green-Pedersen, Reference Green-Pedersen2012, Reference Green-Pedersen2019).

Yet when national elections take place right before EP elections, we would expect these differences between Eurosceptic and non-Eurosceptic parties to be diminished. Eurosceptic parties know that their electoral gains in national elections are larger, the closer in time national elections occur to EP elections (Schulte-Cloos, Reference Schulte-Cloos2018; also see Somer-Topcu and Zar, Reference Somer-Topcu and Zar2014). This is explained by scholars with reference to the increased saliency of EU issues and the large visibility enjoyed by such challengers in the context of the proximity of elections. However, we argue that Eurosceptic parties will always be ‘Eurosceptic’ in their manifesto content, just as green parties will always be ‘green’, because it is their essential feature which distinguishes them from their competitors (cf. De Vries and Hobolt, Reference De Vries and Hobolt2020; Green-Pedersen, Reference Green-Pedersen2019). Therefore, the temporal proximity of national and EP elections should not matter for Eurosceptic parties’ manifestos drafting strategies as much as it does for non-Eurosceptic parties.

Consequently, we argue that the temporal proximity of national and EP elections matters more for non-Eurosceptic than for Eurosceptic parties’ issue emphasis strategies. Non-Eurosceptic parties will put more emphasis on EU issues if national elections are close in time to the next EP elections, but they will display lower levels of EU issue emphasis if the next EP elections are still far away. We expect the differences between Eurosceptic and non-Eurosceptic parties regarding their varying degrees of EU issue emphasis in national election manifestos to be more pronounced the further away national elections are from the next EP elections. Thus, our second hypothesis is as follows:

Hypothesis 2: Eurosceptic parties will emphasize EU issues in their national election manifestos more than non-Eurosceptic parties, the further away a national election is from the next EP election within the national electoral cycle.

Research design and data

To evaluate the hypothesized effects of the temporal proximity of national and EP elections on parties’ emphasis of EU issues in national election manifestos, we rely on the Manifesto Project Database (version 2019b) (Volkens et al., Reference Volkens, Krause, Lehmann, Matthieß, Merz, Regel and Weßels2019). In a first step, we restricted this dataset to only include manifestos from countries that were EU member states at the time of the national elections. In a second step, we deleted all national manifestos that are coded with missing values in the EU-related categories per108 and per110. In a third step, we excluded all party lists running for national elections which comprised more than one party, that is, alliances and coalitions. In a fourth step, we excluded parties which did not gain parliamentary representation in the national elections. The Manifesto Project comprises many parties that did not gain parliamentary representation following national elections and we concentrate on relevant parties that had a realistic chance of crossing the threshold of parliamentary representation.Footnote 4 Lastly, we dropped all observations when no EP election took place between two national elections (see Table S1 in the supplemental material). Overall, our dataset comprises 956 observations from 340 parties running for national elections in 27 countries between 1979 and 2019.

Operationalization of the dependent, independent, and control variables

The dependent variable is the salience of EU issues (EU issue emphasis) in party manifestos drafted for national elections. Using the aforementioned data set from the Manifesto Project (Budge et al., Reference Budge, Klingemann, Volkens, Bara and Tanenbaum2001; Klingemann et al., Reference Klingemann, Volkens, Bara, Budge and McDonald2006), which developed a classification scheme with 56 categories via human coding of national election manifestos, we compute a party’s emphasis of EU issues as the percentage of quasi-sentences in the manifestos by summing the two shares of ‘European Community/Union: Positive’ (per108) and ‘European Community/Union: Negative’ (per110).

To test the effect of the temporal proximity of national and the next EP elections on national parties’ EU issue emphasis, we calculate the time span between national elections and the next EP elections, relative to the length of the country-specific legislative period at the national level (cf. Reif, Reference Reif1984; Weber, Reference Weber2007). The Cycle position is calculated as the number of days between a national election in t and the next EP election (x), divided by the total number of days between the national elections in t and t + 1 (y), thus ranging from 0 to 1 (see Figure 1). Low values indicate that a national election starting the legislative period in a country is close in time to the next EP election. Following the electoral cycle literature, this operationalization has three advantages: (1) using the national electoral Cycle position takes the varying lengths of legislative periods in the countries under study into account; (2) when drafting their national election manifestos parties already know when the next EP elections will happen, and they cannot manipulate the election date because this is decided at the supranational level; (3) whereas ‘national elections occur on different cycles’, EP elections are held every five years and ‘fall at different points in these cycles’ and this allows us to analyse variations both between and within countries (Weber and Franklin, Reference Weber and Franklin2018, p. 838).

Figure 1. Illustrative example for calculating the independent variable Cycle position.

Notes: The figure displays the calculation of the independent variable Cycle position. Cycle position is calculated as the number of days between a national election in t (NPEt) and the next EP election (EPE) (x), divided by the total number of days between the national elections in t (NPEt) and t+1 (NPEt+1) (y), thus ranging from 0 to 1.

Figure 1 demonstrates why we exclude observations where no EP election took place within a national electoral cycle: otherwise, we would end up with values greater than ‘1’ if we took the national elections in t + 2 instead of the national elections in t + 1. For example, we include the Danish parliamentary elections in 1984 and 1990 in the analysis but exclude the elections in 1987 because there were no EP elections within the national electoral cycle between 1984 and 1987. Furthermore, the Belgian example highlights why Cycle position can take on the values ‘0’ and ‘1’. We deliberately set the value to ‘0’ when there are concurrent national and EP elections at the beginning of a national electoral cycle because we assume that concurrent elections force parties to emphasize EU issues in their national election manifestos, and also because the media will increase its coverage of parties’ emphasis of EU issues leading parties to try to shape the public agenda with their electoral programme (see Merz, Reference Merz2017a, b). Therefore, Cycle position takes on the value ‘0’ for the observations of the Belgian parliamentary elections in 1999, which were held concurrently with EP elections on 13 June 1999. If, however, an EP election is held concurrently at the end of a national electoral cycle, such as has been the case for the Belgian electoral cycle starting with the parliamentary elections in 1995, Cycle position takes on the value ‘1’ because the national electoral cycle is exactly as long as the time span between the Belgian parliamentary elections on 21 May 1995 and both the parliamentary and the EP elections on 13 June 1999.

To test the conditional effect of Cycle position on the varying strategies of Eurosceptic and non-Eurosceptic parties, we use a dummy variable: being a Eurosceptic party is measured as a binary variable (value 1) if a party covered in the Manifesto Project Database is considered as Eurosceptic by The PopuList (Rooduijn et al., Reference Rooduijn, van Kessel, Froio, Pirro, de Lange, Halikiopoulou, Lewis, Mudde and Taggart2019) and by De Vries (Reference De Vries2018) and Szczerbiak and Taggart (Reference Szczerbiak and Taggart2008).

We control for several factors that are regularly considered to influence parties’ issue emphasis strategies when drafting their manifestos: first, we control for a party’s status of being in government or in opposition when drafting a national election manifesto (Government party). One might expect a positive effect of Government party on EU issue emphasis because (a) government parties are directly involved in EU politics via the various EU institutions (Gross, Reference Gross2021), and (b) government parties tend to write longer manifestos and include more issues than opposition parties, not least because ‘[g]overnment parties simply have more resources available’ (Dolezal et al., Reference Dolezal, Ennser-Jedenastik, Müller and Winkler2012, p. 872). The data on a party’s status of being in government or in opposition are obtained from the ParlGov database (Döring and Manow, Reference Döring and Manow2020).

Second, we control for whether the manifesto was issued by a party campaigning in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE party) or in Southern Europe (South European party). We expect CEE parties to emphasize EU issues in their national election manifestos less than parties from other European regions (see Whitefield and Rohrschneider, Reference Whitefield and Rohrschneider2009; Haughton, Reference Haughton2014). Election campaigns and manifestos in CEE are usually dominated by bread-and-butter issues and anti-corruption appeals, while EU themes remain marginal. Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia are coded as CEE countries.Footnote 5 Furthermore, the literature suggests different patterns and levels of EU politicization in Southern Europe compared to Northern Europe and CEE (Kriesi, Reference Kriesi2016; Otjes and Katsanidou, Reference Otjes and Katsanidou2017; Hutter and Kriesi, Reference Hutter and Kriesi2019). Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain are coded as Southern European countries.

Third, we control for concurrent parliamentary and EP elections (Concurrent elections), which is a hard test for our data because such elections impact the calculation of both the lower and upper limit of the independent variable Cycle position. Fourth, we control for two ‘critical junctures’ with regard to party competition over European integration: the Maastricht treaty, marking the largest authority transfer to the supranational level, and the ‘Euro crisis’ from 2010 on, which further intensified party competition over European integration and EU matters (see Schäfer et al., Reference Schäfer, Popa, Braun and Schmitt2021). Pre-Maastricht receives the value ‘1’ for national elections before 1994 (we expect a negative effect on EU issue emphasis), whereas Euro crisis displays the value ‘1’ for all national elections from 2010 on (we expect a positive effect on EU issue emphasis).

Sixth, we include a party’s general left-right position (MARPOR’s Rile) to control for the empirical finding that it is mainly parties from the far-left and the far-right that are opposed to further European integration (see e.g. Hooghe et al., Reference Hooghe, Marks and Wilson2002), which might also be reflected in greater EU issue emphasis. Lastly, we use a variable to account for a party’s EU issue emphasis in its previous manifesto (EU issue emphasis t−1 ). Some parties may have a stronger tendency to emphasize EU issues in their manifestos, which may not be captured by other variables in our models (e.g. preferences by party activists or political elites, see Spoon Reference Spoon2012).

Results

We first present descriptive information on national parties’ EU issue emphasis in their manifestos (for descriptive statistics of dependent, independent, and control variables see Table S2 in the supplementary material). On average, national parties dedicate only 2.81% of their entire national manifestos to EU issues. This is slightly lower than the 3.2% reported in Braun and Schmitt (Reference Braun and Schmitt2020, p. 644) and is due to the fact that they focus only on 15 Western EU member states, whereas we also include all Central and Eastern EU member states. While we find no difference in the average EU emphasis of government and opposition parties, Eurosceptic and Western European parties devote more space in their manifestos to EU issues than non-Eurosceptic and CEE parties (3.13 vs. 2.72 and 2.96 vs. 1.99 percent, respectively). Even though the Manifesto Project coding procedure tends to underestimate ‘the salience of EU-related issues’ (Guinaudeau and Persico, Reference Guinaudeau and Persico2013, p. 151), this descriptive information already indicates that the manifesto salience of EU issues for national parties still is rather low. Nevertheless, the negative bivariate association between the mean of national parties’ EU issue emphasis at a national election and the cycle position (see Figure S1 in the supplementary material) lends support to our theoretical expectation about the effect of temporal proximity of national and the next EP election and parties’ EU saliency strategies. Moving from the lowest (mean EU issue emphasis = 3.69) to the highest (mean EU issue emphasis = 1.48) value of Cycle position, parties’ EU issue emphasis decreases by a factor of 2.5.

In the next step, we evaluate our theoretical expectations based on a multivariate regression analysis. The data is hierarchically structured, as party manifestos are written at a specific point within the national electoral cycle and are nested within countries. Given that these countries vary extensively in terms of the structure of party competition at the national level, we apply a multilevel mixed-effects Tobit regression with random intercepts at the country level to allow for varying mean emphasis of EU issue-levels across spaces (see Netjes and Binnema, Reference Netjes and Binnema2007; Steenbergen and Scott, Reference Steenbergen, Scott, Marks and Steenbergen2004; Hoeglinger, Reference Hoeglinger2016). Using a Tobit regression is appropriate because the observations in the data can only take on positive values or zero for the dependent variable EU issue emphasis. The right-skewed distribution of EU issue emphasis (see Figure S2 in the supplementary material) requires a log-transformation of the dependent variable to meet the assumption of homoscedastic residuals underlying Tobit models.

The estimated results are presented in Table 1. The first model tests the direct effect of the temporal proximity of a national election and the next EP election on parties’ EU issue emphasis in their national election manifestos within the national electoral cycle (Hypothesis 1). The second model investigates the interaction effect between a party’s status of being a Eurosceptic party and the temporal proximity of national and EP elections within the national electoral cycle (Hypothesis 2). Model 3 re-examines the first two models by including several control variables.Footnote 6

Table 1. Explaining EU issue emphasis in national manifestos

Notes: Dependent variable: EU issue emphasis (log). Multilevel mixed-effects Tobit regression. Standard errors are given in parentheses. Significance levels: + P < 0.10; *P < 0.05; **P < 0.01; ***P < 0.001.

In line with Hypothesis 1, the regression analysis shows that Cycle position has a statistically significant negative effect on parties’ emphasis of EU issues in their national manifestos. Parties put less emphasis on EU issues in their manifestos, the further away the next EP elections are within the national electoral cycle. In other words, parties increase the space assigned to EU issues in their national election manifestos when an EP election is imminent. Because EU issue emphasis is log transformed, the fixed-effect coefficients of Cycle position displayed in Table 1 can be interpreted in terms of percentage change. On average, parties devote 34% more of their national election manifestos to EU issues when a national election and the next EP election happen at the beginning of the national electoral cycle, compared to situations where parties know when writing their national election manifestos that the next EP election will happen at the end of the national electoral cycle. An illustrative within-country example in this regard is the case of the Social Democratic Labour Party in Sweden, which has been in government when drafting national election manifestos in all but one of the elections under study here. As shown in Table S3 in the supplemental material, the Swedish Social Democrats varied their EU issue emphasis according to our theoretical expectations by putting more emphasis on EU issues when national and EP elections were close in time within the national electoral cycle, while displaying less emphasis when national and EP elections were far apart from each other within the national electoral cycle.

Regarding the conditioning effect of the temporal proximity of national elections and the next EP elections on the differences between Eurosceptic and non-Eurosceptic parties’ EU issue emphasis, we find support for our second hypothesis: the further away a national election is from the next EP election within the national electoral cycle, the more Eurosceptic parties emphasize EU issues, whereas non-Eurosceptic parties tend to de-emphasize such issues (see Figure 2). On average, and compared to non-Eurosceptic parties, Eurosceptic parties devote 54% more of their national election manifestos to EU issues when a national election and the next EP election happen at the end of the national electoral cycle, compared to situations where parties know when writing their national election manifestos that the next EP elections will take place at the beginning of the national electoral cycle. The results displayed in Figure 2 and Model 3 in Table 1 lend additional support to the descriptive information that Eurosceptic parties put more emphasis on EU issues in their national election manifestos than non-Eurosceptic parties and corroborate previous findings for both national election manifestos (Green-Pedersen, Reference Green-Pedersen2012, Reference Green-Pedersen2019) and Euromanifestos (Braun et al., Reference Braun, Hutter and Kerscher2016).

Figure 2. Interaction plot.

Note: The figure is based on Model 3 in Table 1. The lines on the x-axis show the distribution of cycle positions in the sample.

As expected, a party’s emphasis of EU issues in the previous election is positively associated with its current EU issue emphasis. Furthermore, the regression analysis shows that parties in CEE countries emphasize EU issues less than parties in other countries (see e.g. Pennings, Reference Pennings2006), whereas we find no difference between Southern and Northern European parties. In line with previous findings in the literature, we do not find a statistically significant difference between government and opposition parties’ EU issue emphasis in their national election manifestos (see also Netjes and Binnema, Reference Netjes and Binnema2007; Spoon, Reference Spoon2012; Braun et al., Reference Braun, Hutter and Kerscher2016; Hoeglinger, Reference Hoeglinger2016; Green-Pedersen, Reference Green-Pedersen2019, p. 20). Neither the Maastricht treaty and Euro crisis dummies, nor a party’s left-right position make a difference for national parties’ EU issue emphasis. Yet, we find a statistically significant and negative effect of concurrent elections, indicating that parties put less emphasis on EU issues when national and EP elections take place on the same day. This is in line with second-order election theory because both the media environment and voters’ interests are focused on the first-order national elections.

Since the operationalization of the independent variable Cycle position includes concurrent elections both at the very beginning and at the very end of the national electoral cycle, we re-run the models, this time accounting for a possible non-linear effect by including the squared term of this variable (see Weber, Reference Weber2007). The results remain substantially the same. If national elections are close in time to the next EP elections within the national electoral cycle (but not on the same day), then parties put more emphasis on EU issues, compared to situations when national and EP elections are taking place far away from each other. Our results remain robust to additional tests, such as the exclusion of three outliers in our data set in terms of their high degree of EU issue emphasis in national election manifestosFootnote 7 , or the exclusion of parties that do not emphasize EU issues at all in their election manifestos (even though this is a deliberate choice by these parties). Moreover, and counter to our theoretical argument, we test if there is an alternative temporal explanation for national parties’ EU issue emphasis, namely the time span between a national election and the closest EP election, meaning that we now change the operationalization of the main independent variable and use a variable capturing the absolute difference in days between a national and an EP election (|Days between elections|) instead of Cycle position. We do not find any statistically significant effect of this variable and are therefore confident to conclude that it is not just the temporal proximity of national and EP elections but rather the temporal proximity of national and the next EP elections, accounting for the national electoral cycle. All results of the robustness tests are included in Tables S4S7 in the supplementary material.

Discussion and conclusion

What explains parties’ varying emphasis of EU issues in their national election manifestos? Using information on 956 election manifestos drafted by 340 parties for national elections in 27 EU member states between 1979 and 2019, we demonstrate that a previously ignored factor, the temporal proximity of national and the next EP elections, influences the salience of EU issues in national party manifestos. Parties devote more attention to EU issues in their national election manifestos the sooner the next EP election is going to happen. Yet, by dedicating only 2.81% of manifesto content to EU issues, national parties still only focus to a small extent on EU-related topics. This complements previous findings on parties’ rather low EU issue salience during the last months of their national election campaigns (Senninger and Wagner, Reference Senninger and Wagner2015; Hoeglinger, Reference Hoeglinger2016).

By highlighting the importance of considering the temporal proximity of national and EP elections for the explanation of national parties’ EU issue emphasis, our study adds a supply side-perspective (see also Brunsbach et al., Reference Brunsbach, John and Werner2012; Braun and Schmitt, Reference Braun and Schmitt2020) to the literature on the connection between first- and second-order elections. That literature showed that populist radical right parties or opposition parties benefit electorally when national and European elections are close in time (see e.g. Somer-Topcu and Zar, Reference Somer-Topcu and Zar2014; Schulte-Cloos, Reference Schulte-Cloos2018) and that voters tend to vote sincerely in EP elections held closer to national elections, whereas they engage more often in protest voting when the European elections take place at considerable temporal distance from national ones (van der Eijk et al., Reference van der Eijk, Franklin and Marsh1996; Gabel, Reference Gabel2000). Our results indicate that Eurosceptic and non-Eurosceptic parties take this kind of voting behaviour into account by varying their EU issue emphasis in national election manifestos: the further away EP elections are from national elections within the national electoral cycle, the more Eurosceptic parties emphasize EU issues, whereas non-Eurosceptic parties decrease their EU issue emphasis.

Furthermore, we add new empirical evidence on the importance of considering time-related aspects in politics (see e.g. Goetz, Reference Goetz2014). Previous research has shown that the legislative electoral cycle, in particular, influences the behaviour of political actors regarding coalition parties’ issue attention (Sagarzazu and Klüver, Reference Sagarzazu and Klüver2017), incumbents’ responsiveness to public opinion (Pardos-Prado and Sagarzazu, Reference Pardos-Prado and Sagarzazu2019), or government and opposition parties’ short- and long-term issue emphasis strategies (Schröder and Stecker, Reference Schröder and Stecker2018; Seeberg, Reference Seeberg2022), and this behaviour can also be traced in political actors’ parliamentary speeches (Schwalbach, Reference Schwalbach2022). Our theoretical arguments and empirical results speak to this literature by highlighting the fact that political actors seem to take the national electoral cycle and the next EP elections into account when deciding on their issue emphasis strategies in their national election manifestos.

Nevertheless, at least three caveats of this study need acknowledging. First, our analysis specifically dealt with how temporal proximity to European elections influences the salience of EU issues for parties in their national election manifestos. It has not been the purpose of this contribution to investigate whether this temporal proximity also influences how parties talk about EU issues in their manifestos. This might be a fruitful route for future research. A natural expectation would be to observe a higher level of consistency in positions for elections taking place in close succession. Nevertheless, parties might still strategically adapt their positions following debates in the election campaign and updated information about the (un)popularity of certain EU-related stances. Irrespective of this, the fact that we observe diminishing differences in EU issue salience between Eurosceptic and non-Eurosceptic parties when the two sets of elections are close in time, contributes to a recent body of work identifying the growing strategic efforts of Europhile parties in priming EU issues in electoral debates (Braun and Grande, Reference Braun and Grande2021; Jurado and Navarrete, Reference Jurado and Navarrete2021; Turnbull-Dugarte, Reference Turnbull-Dugarte2021).Footnote 8

Second, since we rely on manifesto data, we do not fully capture how parties at the national level strategically alter their emphasis of EU issues throughout the national electoral cycle. Government parties might highlight EU issues more during the ‘democratic life cycle’ of governments (Strøm et al., Reference Strøm, Müller and Bergman2010) when they have to undertake actions, whereas they have to focus on a broader set of issues in their manifestos to address as many voters as possible before an election. This could explain why we do not find significant differences between government and opposition parties’ EU issue emphasis in their manifestos.

Lastly, our argument about temporal proximity influencing parties’ salience strategies in their election manifestos is neither restricted to the comparison of national and EP elections nor to EU issues. Parties may also face certain constraints in allocating resources for the preparation of manifestos when national and sub-national elections happen close to each other. This has already been shown for Sinn Féin in the Irish national elections and the Northern Ireland Assembly elections in 2007 (see Däubler, Reference Däubler2012, pp. 55–56). Furthermore, if two elections at different layers of a multilevel political system are taking place close in time to each other, parties may also face the dilemma of answering the following question: ‘Which issues do we emphasize in which manifesto?’ Do parties stick to the issues where they legally can regulate or change the policy output? Or do parties also highlight issues that they are legally not responsible for but which they know their voters and party supporters would probably care about? Based on our theoretical considerations and empirical findings, we would expect that particularly the answer to the latter question is influenced by time-related aspects.

Supplementary material

To view supplementary material for this article, please visit https://doi.org/10.1017/S1755773922000376.

Acknowledgments

We thank three anonymous referees and the editors for their helpful comments and suggestions. Mihail Chiru’s work was supported by a grant of the Romanian Ministry of Education and Research, CNCS – UEFISCDI, project number PN-III-P4-ID-PCE−2021−233, within PNCDI III.

Footnotes

1 Däubler (Reference Däubler2012) summarizes the scarce literature on how parties prepare manifestos.

2 We do not claim that media will shift its entire attention to EU issues when an EP election is on the horizon. Rather, we argue that the media coverage of EU issues will increase in comparison to situations when national and EP elections are taking place far away from each other.

3 We do not anticipate the reinforcing effect of temporal proximity to vary depending on the ideological roots of EU contestation: the strategy should benefit equally hard and soft Eurosceptics (Szczerbiak & Taggart, Reference Szczerbiak and Taggart2008) and left and right variants (Braun et al., Reference Braun, Popa and Schmitt2019).

4 Absent comparable polling data for all parties, elections, and countries under study, we use the outcome of the national election as a proxy for assessing a party’s probability of entering parliament.

5 This operationalization also captures the fact that CEE parties ran in a smaller number of EP elections than many parties in ‘older’ EU member states. There is a negative correlation between the number of times a party ran for EP elections and being a CEE party (Pearson’s r = −0.39).

6 The sample size decreases considerably once a party’s previous EU issue emphasis is included because the first appearance of a party in a national election is dropped, and there are parties covered only once in the data.

7 Liberal Reformation Party in Belgium 1999: 27.8% EU issue emphasis; Liberal Party in Denmark 1990: 25.7%; Portuguese Social Democratic Centre Party 1987: 24.2%.

8 We thank an anonymous reviewer for this point.

References

Adams, J. (2012), ‘Causes and electoral consequences of party policy shifts in multiparty elections: theoretical results and empirical evidence’, Annual Review of Political Science 15: 401419.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Basu, C. (2020), ‘Bridging spatial and saliency theory: party size and issue selection in campaigns’, Political Science Research and Methods 8(3): 444458.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Braun, D. and Grande, E. (2021), ‘Politicizing Europe in elections to the European Parliament (1994–2019): the crucial role of mainstream parties’, JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies 59(5): 11241141.Google Scholar
Braun, D., Hutter, S. and Kerscher, A. (2016), ‘What type of Europe? The salience of polity and policy issues in European Parliament elections’, European Union Politics 17(4): 570592.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Braun, D., Popa, S.A. and Schmitt, H. (2019), ‘Responding to the crisis: eurosceptic parties of the left and right and their changing position towards the European Union’, European Journal of Political Research 58(3): 797819.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Braun, D. and Schmitt, H. (2020), ‘Different emphases, same positions? The election manifestos of political parties in the EU multilevel electoral system compared’, Party Politics 26(5): 640650.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Brunsbach, S., John, S. and Werner, A. (2012), ‘The supply side of second-order elections: comparing German National and European Election Manifestos’, German Politics 21(1): 91115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Budge, I. (2015), ‘Issue emphases, saliency theory and issue ownership: a historical and conceptual analysis’, West European Politics 38(4): 761777.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Budge, I. and Farlie, D. (1983), Explaining and Predicting Elections: Issue Effects and Party Strategies in Twenty-Three Democracies. George Allen and Unwin.Google Scholar
Budge, I., Klingemann, H.-D., Volkens, A., Bara, J. and Tanenbaum, E. (eds) (2001), Mapping Policy Preferences: Estimates for Parties, Electors, and Governments 1945–1998. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Burst, T., Lehmann, P., Regel, S. and Zehnter, L. (2021), One Election, Six Visions for Germany. The Parties’ Manifestos for the 2021 General Election. Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung e.V.Google Scholar
Corbett, R. (2014), ‘European elections are second-order elections: is received wisdom changing?JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies 52(6): 11941198.Google Scholar
Däubler, T. (2012), ‘The preparation and use of election manifestos: learning from the irish case’, Irish Political Studies 27(1): 5170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Däubler, T., Chiru, M. and Hermansen, S.S.L. (2022), ‘Introducing COMEPELDA: comprehensive European parliament electoral data covering MEPs, parties and candidates’, European Union Politics 23(2): 351371.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
De Vries, C.E. (2007), ‘Sleeping giant: fact or fairytale? How European integration affects national elections’, European Union Politics 8(3): 363385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
De Vries, C.E. (2018), Euroscepticism and the Future of European Integration. Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
De Vries, C.E. and Hobolt, S.B. (2020), Political Entrepreneurs. The Rise of Challenger Parties in Europe. Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Dolezal, M., Ennser-Jedenastik, L., Müller, W.C. and Winkler, A.K. (2012), ‘The life cycle of party manifestos: the Austrian case’, West European Politics 35(4): 869895.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Döring, H. and Manow, P. (2020), Parliaments and Governments Database (ParlGov): Information on Parties, Elections and Cabinets in Modern Democracies. Development version.Google Scholar
Eder, N., Jenny, M. and Müller, W.C. (2017), ‘Manifesto functions: how party candidates view and use their party’s central policy document’, Electoral Studies 45: 7587.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ezrow, L., De Vries, C.E., Steenbergen, M. and Edwards, E. (2011), ‘Mean voter representation and partisan constituency representation: do parties respond to the mean voter position or to their supporters?Party Politics 17(3): 275301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Faas, T. and Klingelhöfer, T. (2022), ‘German politics at the traffic light: new beginnings in the election of 2021’, West European Politics 45(7): 15061521.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fagerholm, A. (2016), ‘Why do political parties change their policy positions? A review’, Political Studies Review 14(4): 501511.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gabel, M.J. (2000), ‘European integration, voters and national politics’, West European Politics 23(4): 5272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Goetz, K.H. (2014), ‘A question of time: responsive and responsible democratic politics’, West European Politics 37(2): 379399.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Green-Pedersen, C. (2012), ‘A giant fast asleep? Party incentives and the politicisation of European integration’, Political Studies 60(1): 115130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Green-Pedersen, C. (2019), The Reshaping of West European Party Politics. Agenda-Setting and Party Competition in Comparative Perspective. Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gross, M. (2021), ‘Does anyone care? Cohesion policy issues in sub-national politics’, JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcms.13307 Google Scholar
Gross, M. and Jankowski, M. (2020), ‘Dimensions of political conflict and party positions in multi-level democracies: evidence from the Local Manifesto Project,’ West European Politics 43(1): 74101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gross, M. and Schäfer, C. (2020), ‘What ‘moves’ party systems in times of crisis? Economic conditions, public opinion and the European integration issue,’ in Bukow, S. U. and Jun, U. (eds.) Continuity and Change of Party Democracies in Europe (Politische Vierteljahresschrift Sonderhefte Book Series). Springer VS, pp. 111140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Guinaudeau, I. and Persico, S. (2013), ‘EU politicization through the lens of salience: how the EU enters the French, British and German electoral agenda (1986–2009)’, French Politics 11(2): 143168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Harmel, R. (2018), ‘The how’s and why’s of party manifestos. Some guidance for a cross-national research agenda’, Party Politics 24(3): 229239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Harmel, R., Tan, A.C., Janda, K. and Smith, J.M. (2018), ‘Manifestos and the “two faces” of parties,’ Party Politics 24(3): 278288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Haughton, T. (2014), ‘Money, margins and the motors of politics: the EU and the development of party politics in Central and Eastern Europe’, JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies 52(1): 7187.Google Scholar
Hellström, J. and Blomgren, M. (2016), ‘Party debate over Europe in national election campaigns: electoral disunity and party cohesion’, European Journal of Political Research 55(2): 265282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hix, S. and Lord, C. (1997), Political Parties in the European Union. Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hobolt, S.B. and De Vries, C.E. (2015), ‘Issue entrepreneurship and multiparty competition’, Comparative Political Studies 48(9): 11591185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hoeglinger, D. (2016), ‘The politicisation of European integration in domestic election campaigns’, West European Politics 39(1): 4463.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hooghe, L., Marks, G. and Wilson, C.J. (2002), ‘Does left/right structure party positions on European integration?’, Comparative Political Studies 35(8): 965989.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hutter, S. and Grande, E. (2014), ‘Politicizing Europe in the National Electoral Arena: A Comparative Analysis of Five West European Countries, 1970–2010’, JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies 52(5): 10021018.Google Scholar
Hutter, S. and Kriesi, H. (2019), ‘Politicizing Europe in times of crisis’, Journal of European Public Policy 26(7): 9961017.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jurado, I. and Navarrete, R.M. (2021), ‘The Europeanization of national elections. The role of country characteristics in shaping EU issue voting’, Electoral Studies 71: 110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Klingemann, H.-D., Hofferbert, R.I. and Budge, I. (eds) (1994), Parties, Policies, and Democracy. Westview Press.Google Scholar
Klingemann, H.-D., Volkens, A., Bara, J., Budge, I. and McDonald, M.D. (eds) (2006), Mapping Policy Preferences II: Estimates for Parties, Electors, and Governments in Eastern Europe, European Union and OECD, 1990–2003. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Klüver, H. and Sagarzazu, I. (2016), ‘Setting the agenda or responding to voters? Political parties, voters and issue attention’, West European Politics 39(2): 380398.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kriesi, H. (2007), ‘The role of European integration in national election campaigns’, European Union Politics 8(1): 83108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kriesi, H. (2016), ‘The politicization of European integration’, JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies 54(S1): 3247.Google Scholar
Lynch, P. and Whitaker, R. (2013), ‘Where there is discord, can they bring harmony? Managing intra-party dissent on European integration in the conservative party’, The British Journal of Politics and International Relations 15(3): 317339.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Merz, N. (2017a), ‘Gaining voice in the mass media: the effect of parties’ strategies on party–issue linkages in election news coverage’, Acta Politica 52(4): 436460.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Merz, N. (2017b), The Manifesto–Media Link: how Mass Media Mediate Manifesto Messages. Dissertation. HU Berlin.Google Scholar
Müller, S. (2022), ‘The temporal focus of campaign communication’, The Journal of Politics 84(1): 585590.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Netjes, C.E. and Binnema, H.A. (2007), ‘The salience of the European integration issue: three data sources compared’, Electoral Studies 26(1): 3949.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Otjes, S. and Katsanidou, A. (2017), ‘Beyond Kriesiland: EU integration as a super issue after the Eurocrisis’, European Journal of Political Research 56(2): 301319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pardos-Prado, S. and Sagarzazu, I. (2019), ‘Economic performance and center-periphery conflicts in party competition’, Party Politics 25(1): 5062.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pennings, P. (2006), ‘An empirical analysis of the Europeanization of national party manifestos, 1960–2003,’ European Union Politics 7(2): 257270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Petrocik, J.R. (1996), ‘Issue ownership in presidential elections, with a 1980 case study,’ American Journal of Political Science 40(3): 825850.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rauh, C. (2015), ‘Communicating supranational governance? The salience of EU affairs in the German Bundestag, 1991–2013’, European Union Politics 16(1): 116138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Reif, K. (1984), ‘National electoral cycles and European elections 1979 and 1984’, Electoral Studies 3(3): 244255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Reif, K. and Schmitt, H. (1980), ‘Nine second-order elections: A conceptual framework for the analysis of European election results’, European Journal of Political Research 8(1): 344.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Robertson, D. (1976), A Theory of Party Competition. Wiley.Google Scholar
Rooduijn, M., van Kessel, S., Froio, C., Pirro, A.L.P., de Lange, S.L., Halikiopoulou, D., Lewis, P., Mudde, C. and Taggart, P. (2019), The PopuList: an Overview of Populist, Far Right, Far Left and Eurosceptic Parties in Europe.Google Scholar
Sagarzazu, I. and Klüver, H. (2017), ‘Coalition Governments and Party Competition: political Communication Strategies of Coalition Parties’, Political Science Research and Methods 5(2): 333349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Schäfer, C., Popa, S.A., Braun, D. and Schmitt, H. (2021), ‘The reshaping of political conflict over Europe: from pre-Maastricht to post-“Euro crisis”’, West European Politics 44(3): 531557.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Schröder, V. and Stecker, C. (2018), ‘The temporal dimension of issue competition’, Party Politics 24(6): 708718.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Schulte-Cloos, J. (2018), ‘Do European Parliament elections foster challenger parties’ success on the national level?’, European Union Politics 19(3): 408426.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Schwalbach, J. (2022), ‘Going in circles? The influence of the electoral cycle on the party behaviour in parliament’, European Political Science Review 14(1): 3655.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Seeberg, H.B. (2017), ‘What can a government do? Government issue ownership and real-world problems’, European Journal of Political Research 56(2): 346363.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Seeberg, H.B. (2022), ‘First avoidance, then engagement: political parties’ issue competition in the electoral cycle’, Party Politics 28(2): 284293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Senninger, R. and Wagner, M. (2015), ‘Political parties and the EU in national election campaigns: who talks about Europe, and how?’ JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies 53(6): 13361351.Google Scholar
Somer-Topcu, Z. and Zar, M.E. (2014), ‘European parliamentary elections and national party policy change’, Comparative Political Studies 47(6): 878902.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Spoon, J.-J. (2012), ‘How salient is Europe? An analysis of European election manifestos, 1979–2004’, European Union Politics 13(4): 558579.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Spoon, J.-J. and Klüver, H. (2014), ‘Do parties respond? How electoral context influences party responsiveness’, Electoral Studies 35: 4860.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Steenbergen, M.R. and Scott, D.J. (2004), ‘Contesting Europe? The salience of European integration as a party issue’, in Marks, G. and Steenbergen, M. R. (eds.), European Integration and Political Conflict. Cambridge University Press, pp. 165192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Stimson, J.A., MacKuen, M.B. and Erikson, R.S. (1995), ‘Dynamic representation’, American Political Science Review 89(3): 543565.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Strøm, K., Müller, W.C. and Bergman, T. (eds.) (2010), Cabinets and Coalition Bargaining: The Democratic Life Cycle in Western Europe. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Szczerbiak, A. and Taggart, P. (eds.) (2008), Opposing Europe? The Comparative Party Politics of Euroscepticism: Volume 2: Comparative and Theoretical Perspectives. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Turnbull-Dugarte, S.J. (2021), ‘A new hope for europhiles? The 2017 German federal elections and the revenge of the pro-European mainstream,’ Journal of European Integration 43(7): 815840.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
van der Eijk, C., Franklin, M.N. and Marsh, M. (1996), ‘What voters teach us about Europe-wide elections: what Europe-wide elections teach us about voters,’ Electoral Studies 15(2): 149166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Volkens, A., Krause, W., Lehmann, P., Matthieß, T., Merz, N., Regel, S. and Weßels, B. (2019), The Manifesto Data Collection. Manifesto Project (MRG/CMP/MARPOR). Version 2019b. Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung (WZB).Google Scholar
Weber, T. (2007), ‘Campaign effects and second-order cycles. A top-down approach to European parliament elections,’ European Union Politics 8(4): 509536.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Weber, T. and Franklin, M.N. (2018), ‘A behavioral theory of electoral structure,’ Political Behavior 40(4): 831856.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Whitefield, S. and Rohrschneider, R. (2009), ‘The Europeanization of political parties in central and Eastern Europe? The impact of EU entry on issue stances, salience and programmatic coherence,’ Journal of Communist Studies and Transition Politics 25(4): 564584.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Figure 0

Figure 1. Illustrative example for calculating the independent variable Cycle position.Notes: The figure displays the calculation of the independent variable Cycle position. Cycle position is calculated as the number of days between a national election in t (NPEt) and the next EP election (EPE) (x), divided by the total number of days between the national elections in t (NPEt) and t+1 (NPEt+1) (y), thus ranging from 0 to 1.

Figure 1

Table 1. Explaining EU issue emphasis in national manifestos

Figure 2

Figure 2. Interaction plot.Note: The figure is based on Model 3 in Table 1. The lines on the x-axis show the distribution of cycle positions in the sample.

Supplementary material: File

Gross et al. supplementary material

Gross et al. supplementary material

Download Gross et al. supplementary material(File)
File 266 KB