European Election Study 2014

Research question/goal: 

The European Election Study (EES) 2014 project continued the tradition of the post-European Parliament (EP) election studies, which was established at the University of Mannheim in 1979. The overall goal of the project was to assess the quality of democracy in the European Union at the time of the 2014 EP elections. In light of the financial crisis as of 2007 with the subsequent crisis of public finance, the banking system and the economies in the European Union as of 2010 (commonly referred to as the Euro crisis) and the institutional changes introduced ahead of the 2014 elections (i.e. the campaigning of lead candidates, or Spitzenkandidaten, of EU-wide party federations), our aim was to evaluate the state of EU democracy. A second goal was to make the EES 2014 data freely available to the research community for the purpose of secondary analyses of the collected data and to answer research questions on the state of EU democracy at the time of the 2014 EP elections.

The study consisted of three components. The first was the 2014 EES Voter Study, an EU-wide post-election population survey based on nationally representative samples. The second component was the 2014 EES Manifesto Study. It involved the collection and coding of electoral manifestos issued at the time of the 2014 EP elections by all nationally relevant political parties. The third is the 2014 EES Social Media Study, which involved the collection of all Twitter communications of EP candidates and their followers at the time of the 2014 EP elections. The data resulting from the first two components was deposited at the GESIS Data Archive for the Social Sciences and is publicly available (Twitter data could not be shared due to privacy protection provisions.).

All these data were analysed thoroughly, and the project team and external collaborators published the findings. Our results show that the introduction of the Spitzenkandidaten system lead to an increase in turnout in the 2014 EP elections among citizens who were aware of these lead candidates, especially in the countries in which the candidates campaigned. We further found that an increased coverage of the Spitzenkandidaten in the party manifestos and the social media communication of MEP candidates of these parties increased the awareness of the system among party supporters. Nevertheless, the overall coverage of the Spitzenkandidaten system in both party manifestos and the social media communication of MEP candidates was generally low and in part dependent  on political parties’ strategic considerations.

In relation to changing party positions and issue emphases in relation to the public debt crisis, we found that far-left and far-right parties did become increasingly eurosceptic, while the salience of EU-related issues did not change significantly in comparison to the 2009 EP elections. However, these changes did not seem to be driven by subjective or objective manifestation of the crisis, but by a general shift towards more Eurosceptic views of the median voter. Nonetheless, an analysis of the degree of politicization of EU issues based on the social media communication of parties shows that that the overall politicization of these issues was still low as mainstream parties tend to impede the diffusion of EU scepticism.

Fact sheet

Funding: 
EU, Foundations VW, Riksbanken, Mercator, Gulbenkian
Duration: 
2012 to 2018
Status: 
completed
Data Sources: 
Surveys and content analyses of political texts
Geographic Space: 
European Union

Publications