Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2019

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

International Affairs

First Advisor

Dr. Joseph Jupille

Second Advisor

Dr. Douglas Snyder

Third Advisor

Dr. Sarah Wilson Sokhey

Abstract

Since direct elections to the European Parliament began in 1979, variations in voting behavior in European Parliament (EP) elections from national elections raise interesting questions about political behavior. Previous studies into European elections conclude that turnout is lower because EP elections are second order contests, meaning that they are seen as extensions of national politics and of low importance. However, as the EU has grown, some studies have found that European considerations do influence electoral outcomes in EP elections. In this study, I add to this growing literature on how Europe matter and I argue that EP elections are more complicated than second order contests. Through a cross-national study of national and European elections, I find that European turnout drops when an EP election follows a national election but rises when an EP election precedes a national election. I also find that the European cycle matters as voters compare EP elections to prior EP elections as the timelines interact with one another.Overall, I conclude that time matters in political behavior and that the interactions between national timelines and European timelines impacts electoral outcomes by decreasing turnout during frequent elections or periods where there are a high number of elections. I conclude that the multi-level democracy of the European Union challenges voters and complicates simple acts such as voting, discouraging participation.

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