Constantin Schäfer, Marc Debus
No Participation without Representation. Policy Distances and Abstention in European Parliament Elections

Journal of European Public Policy, 2018: 25, Heft 12, S. 1835-1854
ISSN: 1350-1763 (print); 1466-4429 (online)

How does the degree to which European citizens see themselves represented by political parties relate to their willingness to participate in an election? We argue that the closer citizens are to the parties running in an election in terms of the basic left-right conflict and the European integration policy dimension, the more likely they participate in elections to the European Parliament. The analysis, which is based on the 2009 and 2014 European Election Studies datasets, indicates that the ideological left-right distance between citizens and parties mattered for participation in both EP elections under study. Moreover, the European integration dimension has become relevant for citizens’ turnout decision over the course of the European economic and sovereign debt crisis, but only in countries that are part of the Eurozone. These findings have implications for the nature of European elections and representative democracy on the European level, and indicate that missing policy responsiveness can lead to lower voter turnout.