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Studia Politica. Romanian Political Science Review, vol. XIV, no. 3, 2014

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT ELECTIONS 2014: 
DISENCHANTMENT WITH EUROPE OR MEANINGFUL REPRESENTATION
Edited by ALEXANDRA IANCU


ALEXANDRA IANCU, On High Hopes and Disappointment. The Broken Promises of the 2014 European Elections (pp. 299-314)
Abstract
Turnout levels in the European elections have been substantially declining over the past decades. The entry into force of new sets of rules and EP prerogatives provided the MEPs with the power to break the chain of dissatisfaction with the EU institutions. The nomination procedure of the Commission Presidency, based on the EP directly elected majorities, brought more legitimacy to the electoral competition. From a symbolic perspective, the Commission became a functional equivalent of a European executive. However, the recent political reforms, instead of boosting political participation and public interest in the EU race, were of little consequence to the electoral mobilization. Moreover, the macro-level electoral results did not particularly alter the balance of power on the European arena. Conversely, the 2014 electoral race brought significant political gains for Eurosceptic or euro-critical parties. The article revisits the main explanatory factors behind the EU “legitimacy crisis”: (1) the specificity of the European institutions and the lack of clear and significant choices at the EU level; (2) the “second order” elections thesis and the hybrid articulation of the EU regime (3) the inherent problem of the EU institutional design and political representation. The analysis of the 2014 elections suggests the emergence of a failed “foundational moment” in bringing more legitimacy and political participation at the EU level.
Keywords
European elections, turnout, political legitimacy, second order elections.


SORINA SOARE, The 2014 Elections in Italy for the European Parliament. An Italian Affair? (pp. 315-332)
Abstract
The paper aims to inquire into whether the Italian case still provides evidence in favor of the standard theoretical framework according to which European elections are second-order national elections in which national rather than European issues are the main determinants of voter choice. Our findings are rather contradictory. First, the main party in the government coalition received a higher share of votes compared with the results in the previous 2013 national election, confirming a so-called honeymoon period between the Italian voters and the Democratic Party (PD). Still, despite the increased relevance of EU issues in the electoral campaign, the primary motivation of politicians and parties remains their interest in holding on to national government office or to an opposition status (a strategic position for the Five Star Movement – M5S). Second, the lower turnout in European than in national elections was confirmed despite Prime Minister Renzi’s successful mobilization of the PD electorate. Though large parties like Forza Italia and M5S lost votes, few small parties surpassed the electoral threshold. Broadly speaking, this analysis points to a vote of trust in government rather than a clear stance on EU issues, considering that Italian voters expressed their preferences mainly in relation to the new government formula rather than to the EU agenda or performance of previous members of the European Parliament.
Keywords
Italy, political parties, electoral campaign, European Union, second-order elections


CRISTINA E. PÂRÂU, The 2014 European Elections in Britain. The Counter-Revolt of the Masses? (pp. 333-364)
Abstract
This article reviews the campaign manifestoes of the main political parties vying in the UK's 2014 European Parliamentary elections, and analyses the electoral results. The most newsworthy event has been the meteoric rise of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), a vehemently Eurosceptic party advocating withdrawal from the EU. UKIP beat both mainline parties (Labour and the Conservatives) even while the vote collapsed for the UK's most Europhile party, the Liberal Democrats. Even more important is the influence UKIP has now won to affect the domestic electoral strategies of the Conservative and Labour Parties, with which it competes for the Eurosceptic centre-right and anti-immigration working-class vote, respectively. The Conservatives, in Coalition with the Liberal Democrats since 2010, were forced to reshuffle their Cabinet to give Eurosceptic MPs a higher profile; to pass a European Union Act mandating an in-out referendum on EU membership in 2017; and to persuade the EU to appoint a British Conservative to head the European Commission’s Financial Services Directorate. UKIP’s success has been stirring both fears and hopes for the (domestic) general election of 2015. An anti-statist party that combines elements of libertarianism and nationalism, UKIP may well come to embody the revolt of the masses against the British establishment.
Keywords
Euroscepticism, European Parliament elections, United Kingdom, electoral results, Conservative Party, Labour Party, populism, UKIP


SELMA BENDJABALLAH, 2014 EU Elections in France. A “Seismic” Victory (pp. 365-376)
Abstract
The 2014 EU elections in France have been mostly marked by the victory for the extreme right wing party Front National. This paper goes back to the main components of this feared victory for the French Socialist government. It notably stresses how deeply the “protest vote” played in these polls. In a second part, the paper focuses on the main consequences of this victory for the role of France in the European Union and its institutions.   
Keywords
European Parliament, low turnout, extreme right wing argumentations, protest vote   


PETIA GUEORGUIEVA, Les élections européennes en Bulgarie de 2014. Élections en crise (pp. 377-394)
Abstract
The article aims to analyze the European elections held in Bulgaria on 25 of May 2014, the parties and their appeals and performances. The country is among the latest comers in the UE with severe failures in the implementation of the required reforms in the fields of the Rule of Law, fighting corruption and organized crime and reforming the judiciary. The analysis underlines the “second order” character of the 2014 European elections in Bulgaria, held in the context of multiples crisis of different levels. Voters sanctioned severely the parties in government and opened the way to early parliamentary elections.
Keywords
European elections 2014, Bulgaria, crisis, Second order elections, Europeanization  


PIOTR SULA, The 2014 European Elections. The Case of Poland (pp. 395-406)
Abstract
Elections are an irrefutable achievement in the development of modern democracies. However, elections are not only held in order to form accountable governments. They are perceived by political parties as a means of promoting political ideas and treated as an equivalent of public opinion polls. A good case in point is the process of electing deputies to the European Parliament. Poland is not an exception in this context – the notion of “second order election” reflects the stance of both Polish political actors and citizens on this kind of election. Nonetheless, political parties also tend to consider the European elections as a testing ground before national elections, which they recognise as more significant. Last but not least, the lower interest given to European elections by mainstream parties may also create an opportunity for smaller parties, especially those holding strong views, to succeed. Such conclusions might be drawn from the last election held in Poland, which led Janusz Korwin-Mikke’s New Right to unexpected success.
Keywords
European Parliament election, second-order election, EU membership, electoral campaign, Poland


SERGIU GHERGHINA, Ideological Disagrement in the 2014 European Election. Self-Placement and Party Positioning According to Romanian Candidates (pp. 407-422)
Abstract
The left-right axis is often used to allow candidates, political parties and voters to express policy preferences, argue for particular positions, or justify their way of action. While earlier research focused extensively on party positions and voters’ alignment or self-placement, little attention has been paid to the self-placement of candidates in relation to that of their parties. In its attempt to fill such an empirical void, this article analyzes the ideological agreement between subjective positioning of Romanian candidates and political parties on the left-right axis in the most recent European election. Moreover, it tries to identify whether party affiliation (left vs. right), age of the candidates, position on the list and experience in the party make a difference in the different placement. This exploratory study uses data from a candidate survey conducted during the electoral campaign in April-May 2014.    
Keywords
Ideology, self-placement, candidates, political parties, European election