National parties as politicizers of EU integration? Party campaign communication in the run-up to the 2009 European Parliament election
In this article we seek to understand whether, how and under what conditions political parties publicly articulate matters of European integration and encourage contestation over Europe. Based on a content analysis of parties' televised advertising spots during the 2009 European Parliament (EP) election campaign in six countries (Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom), we find evidence that European Union (EU) issues and actors are more prominent on the campaign agenda in countries with many Eurosceptic parties. Eurosceptic and non-Eurosceptic parties co-orient themselves towards each other in their EU articulation. Finally, contestation over Europe exists in the realm of identity politics: right-wing fringe parties (and in some countries also mainstream parties) characterize the EU as a threat to national sovereignty and identity, whereas left-wing mobilization against the EU on economic matters is hardly visible. Regarding the two politicization dimensions - EU articulation and contestation - we show that party campaigns cannot be described as purely second-order national contests any more. Instead, the strategic party mobilization model seems to better characterize the 2009 EP campaigns.
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