European Election Study 2014
The quality of democracy in the European Union is constantly being questioned, generally with very little supporting evidence. Those who would defend the functioning of democratic institutions in the EU are equally short of supporting evidence. Assessments of the way democracy works in the EU and suggestions for improvements are only possible on the basis of audits of the quality of electoral democracy at the time of European Parliament (EP) elections. Such assessments have so far been conducted only in an ad hoc fashion, with precarious funding that has hindered full assessments on all occasions. The 2009 study is a notable exception in that regard, and we are confident that the 2014 study will be judged similarly by the community of scholars. The 2014 study consists of several sub-projects: one is a representative post-election survey in all 28 EU member countries; another one is a two-wave panel survey in a subgroup of 12 countries, for which one panel wave is conducted immediately after the EP election and the other after the subsequent first-order election; third comes a survey among candidates standing for office in the different member countries; fourth is a party manifesto study covering all relevant parties in all member countries; fifth is media campaign study; and sixth and finally comes a new social media communication study.
The project is currently in the final stages of data production (content coding of the 2014 Euromanifestos). Other data collections are completed (the EU wide representative survey) or in progress (the two wave panel survey in a couple of countries). We have published (European Union Politics) or submitted (Electoral Studies, special issue) first papers. A final conference was organized in mid-November 2015 in Mannheim with some 50 participants.