Do Spitzenkandidaten debates matter? Effects on voters' cognitions and evaluations of candidates and issues

I. Palacios*, C. Arnold

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Web of Science)

Abstract

The Lisbon Treaty introduced key institutional changes to increase the relevance of elections to the European Parliament (EP). Among these was the 'Spitzenkandidaten process', which was introduced with the aim to increase the visibility of the EP elections and mobilize more citizens to turnout to vote. This article investigates the effect that the debates among the Lead Candidates had on voters' perceptions about candidates and policy issues. To do this, we administered a two-wave panel online survey to a sample of students from different European universities prior to the Spitzenkandidaten debates and right after them, following the logic of a quasi-experimental research design. Following a difference-in-differences approach, we gauge the extent to which those respondents who were exposed to the debates increased their degree of information about the candidates and changed their perceptions about the candidates and their policy positions. The findings reveal that respondents who followed the debate felt significantly more informed to make up their minds about the candidates as well as to make their vote decisions and slightly improved the perceptions of the policy positions of those candidates who they had intended to vote for.

Original languageEnglish
Article number02633957211015231
Pages (from-to)486-503
Number of pages18
JournalPolitics
Volume41
Issue number4
Early online date18 Jun 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021

Keywords

  • attitudes
  • campaign debates
  • European Parliament
  • Lead Candidates
  • DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT
  • EUROVISION DEBATE
  • EU
  • CAMPAIGNS
  • INFORMATION
  • ELECTIONS
  • ATTITUDES
  • CITIZENS
  • TIME

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