EP elections have so far been consistently characterized as “second-order”. We hypothesize that key processes are emerging which undermine the appropriateness of this model. We argue that, as a consequence of EU policies trying to address the economic and financial crisis, a stronger politicization of Europe has emerged. Accordingly, the national consequences of EU policies have put Europe on the table of national electorates. Together, these processes may lead to an overall increase in saliency of EP elections, so we hypothesize, and to a homogenization of political competition across EU members. We explore this framework in the context of the 2009 and 2014 EP elections. In line with extant applications, we first attempt to assess the core predictions of the second-order model through tests on aggregate electoral results. We then investigate specific explanatory mechanisms for the 2014 EP elections, by relating party performance with party stance on political issues.
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