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From polarization of the public to polarization of the electorate: European Parliament elections as the preferred race for ideologues


Fenzl, Michele; Slapin, Jonathan B; Wilhelm, Samuel (2022). From polarization of the public to polarization of the electorate: European Parliament elections as the preferred race for ideologues. European Union Politics, 23(4):590-611.

Abstract

This study examines the effect of voters’ ideological extremism on turnout in European national and European Parliament elections. Using data from recent European Election Studies, the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems, and other national election studies, we find that, relative to centrists, ideological extremists (measured by self-placement on the left–right scales) are more likely to vote in European Parliament elections (2014 and 2019) but not national elections. We argue that these differences stem from the fact that European Parliament elections are second-order races. The results help to explain why the European Parliament has become more polarized, even in the absence of significant changes in overall attitudes among the European public, and why extreme parties have been more successful in recent European Parliament than national elections.

Abstract

This study examines the effect of voters’ ideological extremism on turnout in European national and European Parliament elections. Using data from recent European Election Studies, the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems, and other national election studies, we find that, relative to centrists, ideological extremists (measured by self-placement on the left–right scales) are more likely to vote in European Parliament elections (2014 and 2019) but not national elections. We argue that these differences stem from the fact that European Parliament elections are second-order races. The results help to explain why the European Parliament has become more polarized, even in the absence of significant changes in overall attitudes among the European public, and why extreme parties have been more successful in recent European Parliament than national elections.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Political Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:320 Political science
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Health (social science)
Social Sciences & Humanities > Demography
Social Sciences & Humanities > Political Science and International Relations
Uncontrolled Keywords:Political Science and International Relations, Demography, Health (social science)
Language:English
Date:1 December 2022
Deposited On:19 Dec 2022 10:37
Last Modified:28 Apr 2024 01:40
Publisher:Sage Publications
ISSN:1741-2757
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/14651165221098501
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)