European Parliament (EP) elections fall within the category of second-order elections: because these types of elections do not lead to the formation of government there is less at stake and, consequently, voters behave differently when casting ballot. However, since the behaviour of voters in elections cannot be perceived in isolation from the behaviours of political parties and media, the question then arises if media (and political parties) also perceive that there is less at stake and hence they behave differently. To this aim, this article analyses the news media coverage of the 2004 and 2009 EP elections in the Czech Republic and Slovakia (N = 5672) and, at the same time, integrates the second-order election theory with the behaviours of the media. Moreover, the article provides unique comparative evidence of news coverage of national parliamentary (N = 5435) and EP elections in both countries. The results indicate that media across the EU only marginally cover EP elections and particularly less than national first-order elections and that coverage of EP elections is dominated by domestic EU political actors. The findings are discussed in the light of existing literature on EP elections, the existence of Europeanised public spheres and EU’s legitimacy as well as democratic deficit.
Europeanisation, EP elections, Media, Second-Order Elections, First-Order Elections
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