Still the question: Who sets Europe on the agenda – political parties or mass media? A seven country comparison in the run-up to the 2014 European Parliament elections.

Bathelt, Severin; Eugster, Beatrice; Maier, Michaela; Adam, Silke (22 November 2017). Still the question: Who sets Europe on the agenda – political parties or mass media? A seven country comparison in the run-up to the 2014 European Parliament elections. (Unpublished). In: ECREA Pol Com Interim Conference 2017. Zürich. 22.11.-23.11.2017.

For a long time, researchers agreed that in public discourse Europe was a side- or even a non-issue (e.g. De Vreese et al., 2007). However, in 2014 the traditional second-order character of European Parliamentary elections was challenged (e.g. Van der Brug et al., 2016), and EU topics received also more attention in the media (e.g. Kleinnijenhuis & Van Atteveldt, 2016). However, the question who sets this public agenda – political parties or the media themselves – has not been sufficiently answered yet: Numerous publications in the tradition of agenda-setting research have demonstrated media’s impact on the political agenda (for a recent summary see, e.g. Thesen, 2013), while other authors have focused on influence of political parties on the media agenda (e.g. Hopmann et al., 2012). However, the phenomenon of party-media interactions has received too little attention so far and more effort has to be put in understanding how agenda dynamics unfold. In this paper we address the urgently called for (e.g. Meijers and Rauh, 2016; Van Aelst and Walgrave, 2011) dynamic interdependencies between press releases published by political parties and media coverage of EU-topics. Our key questions are: Is the salience of EU-topics in press releases and media articles interrelated? and Can we – as a highly relevant contribution to the field – quantify the critical time lags in their relationship? To address these questions we utilize data from a quantitative content analysis of newspaper articles and party press releases in seven countries (AU, ES, F, GER, NL, POR, UK) 12 weeks prior to the European Parliament elections 2014. Vector Autoregressive Models (VAR) are used to capture the interdependencies between party communication and media coverage. This approach allows us to estimate the causal impact of shifting party attention for EU-issues on the number of media publications and vice versa, and additionally the typical delays for these interactions. Regarding the question of causality, our findings clearly show that EU-salience in media is caused by party press releases and not the other way around. Only for the German case, reciprocal effects between media coverage and party press releases are found. Party communication impacts media coverage within a short timeframe of maximum three days. As context variables, such as the degree of public Euroscepticism, do not explain the variance of party communication’s impact between the different countries, it seems that the salience of EU issues in the media coverage greatly depends on party communication.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)


03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Institute of Communication and Media Studies (ICMB)

UniBE Contributor:

Eugster, Beatrice, Adam, Silke


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology




Lena Floriana Studer

Date Deposited:

04 Feb 2020 10:08

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:36


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