The 2014 European Elections. New Players, New Rules, New Battlefield: A New Game?

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    • Presentation speakers
      • Maria Giulia Amadio Viceré, Luiss University, Rome, Italy


    Until now, the elections of the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have been understood as second-order national elections, a definition initially used by Reiff and Schmitt, in 1980, to describe the first direct voting of the European Parliament (EP) in 1979. According to Fabbrini (2013), this is mainly due to “[a] lack of a truly trans-european party system and the consequent low turnout in these elections”. Hence, concerning the aggregate-level outcomes of the EP ballots, as Hobolt and Wittrock (2010) highlight, the “second order model” implies three main assumptions, mainly differentiating EP elections from the national, “traditional” ones. First, the turnout is generally considerably lower than in national elections. Second, smaller parties tend to perform better. Last but not least, voters generally use EP polls as an instrument to punish parties in national governments, especially when the voting coincides with the mid-term of the national level elections’ cycle. As a consequence, governing parties loose part of their vote-share (Reiff and Schmitt, 1980; Hobolt and Wittrock, 2010).

    With the aim of extending the existing literature on EP elections, the objective of this paper is to assess whether and to which extent the May 2014 elections differ from the previous voting. Therefore, the study will firstly provide an overview of the institutional role attributed by the Lisbon Treaty to the European Parliament and an issue based and geographical analysis of the voting trends across Europe. Possible inter-institutional consequences of a further “politicization” of the EP election, will be taken into consideration through an examination of key inter-institutional challenges the new EP will have to face. Against the background of the euro zone crisis and the spread of Euroscepticism, a study of sensitive proceedings in light of the electoral outcomes, will provide an interesting reflection on the rising importance of European issue in contemporary European politics.