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Category archive for: European Politics

Has France really seen the back of the Front National?

Written by Paul Smith.

A week after finishing in first place in the first round of the French regional elections, leading in six regions, the Front National (FN) finds itself in control of … none, while the right-wing Republicans secured seven and the Socialists five. The “system”, as party leader Marine Le Pen likes to call it, has done its job.

And yet the far-right party can take a great deal of satisfaction from the second round. Its final total of 6.8m votes is an improvement of 700,000 on the first round, and 400,000 more than it won at the 2012 presidential election. Continue reading Has France really seen the back of the Front National?

The 2015 Spanish General Election: How a Sea Change May Not Yet Have Reached the Shore of Spanish Politics

Written by Nathan Jones.

The 2015 Spanish general election could mark a critical juncture in Spanish politics.  Spain’s two main political parties, the PSOE (Spanish Socialist Party) and the PP (People’s Party) are, for the first time since the transition to democracy, facing the prospect of attracting less than fifty percent of the vote between them.  This is unprecedented in recent Spanish history, and has led to talk of radical change in the political landscape of Spain. Continue reading The 2015 Spanish General Election: How a Sea Change May Not Yet Have Reached the Shore of Spanish Politics

What actually happens if Britain leaves the EU?

Written by Christopher Grey.

Europe is always a heated topic at a Conservative party conference. This year much debate has focused on David Cameron’s ongoing renegotiation of terms for staying in. By contrast, relatively little has been said about the terms on which Brexit might happen. Those advocating it oscillate between – and often treat as interchangeable – quite different and incompatible scenarios.

The truth is that anyone who works for, or consumes the products of any organisation – in other words everyone – would be affected by a UK exit from the European Union. As someone who studies organisations for a living, I believe that it is strongly in Britain’s interests to remain in; it is why I am a member of the European Movement. Now, you may disagree with that view, but it is surely vital that when it comes to the Brexit referendum, voters know what happens next if Britain chooses to leave. Continue reading What actually happens if Britain leaves the EU?

Pro-Christian, Anti-Muslim or Anti-Refugee? What is behind European politicians’ statements favouring Christian refugees?

Written by Roda Madziva  and Vivien Lowndes.

In the midst of what has come to be known as the worst refugee crisis of our generation, the wrench­ing images of a toddler lying dead on a Turk­ish beach emerged as evidence of a reality that cannot just be captured in words. This has seen many calling for the need to shift the debate away from borders and security and towards asylum, solidarity and responsibility. Yet, in the midst of this humanitarian talk, a new rhetoric is emerging which suggests that the lives of some refugees have more value than others. In particular, the anti-Muslim rhetoric by some politicians in Australia and other European countries such as France, Slovakia, Poland, the UK and many others have widely been judged as discriminatory and a perversion of liberal values especially hospitality, compassion and inclusion. Continue reading Pro-Christian, Anti-Muslim or Anti-Refugee? What is behind European politicians’ statements favouring Christian refugees?

Greece with the Left in government again

Written by Dimitris Sourvanos and Kyriaki Nanou.

Last week Euclid Tsakalotos gave a talk at the LSE discussing from his own experiences – as (the current) finance minister in Greece and as a lifelong Marxist – the difficulties that left-wing parties are faced with when governing under severe constraints. The Greek finance minister said:

It’s difficult for a left-wing Finance Minister to have any left-wing credentials. {…} The deal of July is only as good as the strategy you have to incorporate it in a left-wing direction. The final test of the deal for the Left is not given a priori.

He also added that although the Greek government disagrees on certain aspects of this deal (e.g. pensions, non-performing loans); it is important that it gives space for alternative experiments in in other sectors (e.g. healthcare system) where there is still an “open space”. Continue reading Greece with the Left in government again

Britain has the chance to turn young people into voters – here’s how

Written by Anja Neundorf and Kaat Smets.

Support to lower the voting age to 16 is growing across Europe, and the UK is no exception. It’s looking more and more likely that young people will be allowed to vote, in time for the upcoming EU referendum. Better still, a bill in parliament proposes to overhaul of the way we teach young people about politics. By giving them the vote – and explaining how and why they should exercise it – we have a unique opportunity to re-engage young people with our political system.

A solution like this one is desperately needed: young people are notorious non-voters. While turnout levels are going down among all age groups, young adult turnout is undergoing an even more rapid decline. In fact, the gap in turnout between young and old in the UK is by far the largest of any European democracy.

To make things worse, recent changes in registration rules mean that young people can no longer be automatically registered to vote by their parents, universities or colleges. If they fail to register before November 20, as many as a million young voters could be left off the electoral register. This would be another massive blow to youth participation in politics. Continue reading Britain has the chance to turn young people into voters – here’s how

Negative Campaigns and their Media Coverage: The Danish Case

Written by Christian Elmelund-Præstekær.

Negative campaigning is a great topic! At least it is one of the few research areas within political science that survives more than a two-minute pitch at family parties. The subject seems to fascinate people – for better and for worse – and my mother, my hairdresser, and my biking comrades all have an opinion about parties’ and politicians’ negative rhetoric. Nevertheless, the first systematic studies of negativity in Denmark were published only seven years ago (Elmelund-Præstekær 2008; Hansen & Pedersen 2008); and still common wisdom, sensational stories, and myths shape everyday conversations about the negative form of political campaigning.

One of the most strong-lived beliefs is that contemporary elections are more negative than historic elections. During the Danish parliamentary election campaign in June 2015, I was called by numerous journalists who wanted an expert’s explanation of the “extraordinary” negativity that was unfolding as we spoke. One of the two most salient cases of negative campaigning was launched by the then-incumbent Social Democratic Party as a direct attack on its main opponent, the chairman of the Liberal Party, Lars Løkke Rasmussen. The campaign asked “who’s gonna pay Løkke’s bills?” referring explicitly to a range of lay-offs in the welfare state, and implicitly but more importantly it referred to Løkke’s prior problems separating his private and professional expenses (see an archived version of the campaign’s web page). Continue reading Negative Campaigns and their Media Coverage: The Danish Case

Going nasty in the land of consensus: Negative campaigning in Swiss referendums

Written by Alessandro Nai.

Switzerland is often referred to as the perfect example of “consensus democracy”[i], characterized by a long-lasting tradition of amicable agreements and accommodative decision-making among the political elite, intuitively at odds with the use of nasty political discourse and aggressive campaigning techniques. Furthermore, Swiss electoral and referendum campaigns are still poorly professionalized and “Americanized”, rarely relying on political consultants, spin-doctors and opposition research techniques – which have been argued to foster use of attack rhetoric[ii].

Yet, negative campaigning do exists in Switzerland, as in virtually every country in the world[iii]. Negative campaigning is even a rather prominent feature of Swiss referendum campaigns, where competition is not between opposing candidates but between opposing policy proposals. An analysis of 119 referendums held in Switzerland between 1999 and 2012 (about 10’000 newspaper ads coded) highlights that, on average, 8% of political ads contain at least one direct attack towards political opponents (Figure 1). Continue reading Going nasty in the land of consensus: Negative campaigning in Swiss referendums

Negative campaigning in Austria: Abundant, colorful and ingenious

Written by Marcelo Jenny and Martin Haselmayer.

Systematic empirical research on negative campaigning in Austria has focused on the past decade (Dolezal et al. 2015). It has demonstrated that a lot of unfriendly rhetorical sniping is exchanged not only across the government – opposition divide, but also between coalition partners, especially in SPÖ-ÖVP coalitions. Figure 1, which is based on party press releases, shows that the two largest Austrian parties traded a lot of negative messages during the last four national election campaigns, no matter whether they were in government together (2008, 2013) or not (2002, 2006).

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 09.04.09 Continue reading Negative campaigning in Austria: Abundant, colorful and ingenious

Going negative in Germany – but why and with which effects?

Written by Jürgen Maier.

Most scholars agree that in many countries there is a high amount of negative messages in political elites’ campaign communication. Moreover, some experts even find a steady increase of negative campaigning. But why do candidates opt (more and more) for attacks instead of sending positive campaign messages? And do such negative campaign strategies really work?

Although there are a vast number of studies on negative campaigning, both questions have not been fully answered yet. On the one hand, there is a serious lack of research on negativity outside the United States. Because society, politics, and the media in the U.S. are very different from European countries, it might be inappropriate to simply transfer our knowledge about negativity from one culture to another without prior verification. On the other hand, research on negative campaigning is basically research on campaign advertising. No matter if we look at the United States or at other countries, there is remarkably little evidence on the use and the impact of attacks in other campaign messages. Continue reading Going negative in Germany – but why and with which effects?