The European Election 2019: A Comparative Outlook at the European Election Campaigns in France, Germany and Poland

All three countries experienced a clear politicisation of the public sphere

Summary

The discussion paper takes a closer look at the European Election Campaigns 2019 in France, Germany and Poland and analyses whether they favoured the emergence of a Europeanised public sphere.

The Key Take-Aways

  • All three countries experienced a clear politicisation of the public sphere, but their campaigns remained very national in their characters and showed great differences.
  • The emergence of a European public sphere should, therefore, be a goal of high priority for those who seek a real democratisation of European elections and the EU as a whole.

Background: The European Elections as „Second-Order Elections“

The European elections are traditional “second-order elections” in most EU Member States. Due to the lack of a European public sphere and the language issue, most European citizens have no access to information about the election campaigns in other European countries. This is why the authors decided to look at the election campaigns in the “Weimar triangle” countries: Germany, France and Poland.

Their work shows greater differences in the national discussions related to the EU in the run-up to the European elections: Germany experienced protests and public debates around Article 13 (“Upload filters”) of the EU copyright reform and rallies that defended the EU against rising nationalism. In France, President Macron and his vision of a „European Renaissance“ as well as climate and environmental policies dominated public debates. Poland focused on debates about its prospects of joining the Eurozone and the chances of wage and living standard convergence between the European core and new Member States.

What the EU needs: A European Public Sphere

The authors observe that despite these national politicisations, the interest of voters in the European campaigns remains limited through language and media consumption – the EU still is considered “far away” and still blamed by the far-right and the far-left for not being accountable, intransparent and responsible for many woes, rather than being seen as a vehicle for common cooperation and tackling urgent challenges such as climate change, migration or inequalities.

Therefore, they conclude that if we want to avert this criticism and protect our democracy, we need to work on building a truly transnational community that is stabilised by the emergence of a European public sphere: through stronger and more coordinated European parties, increased exchanges among parliamentarians, and also a converging media landscape and increased education about political systems in neighbouring countries.

Authors

Sophie Pornschlegel ist Policy Fellow am Progressiven Zentrum und arbeitet derzeit als Senior Policy Analyst am European Policy Centre (EPC) sowie als Projektleiterin für Connecting Europe, eine gemeinsame Initiative des EPC mit der Stiftung Mercator.
Paving the Way Towards Common Values
This paper was created in the context of “Daring New Spaces: Striving towards a European Public Sphere
Conference Study: Trying Times – Rethinking Social Cohesion
The study provides a set of focus questions that are designed to promote public debate on how to shape cohesion as we move forward
Fünf Thesen für die Demokratie von morgen
Wie kann Demokratie wieder zu einem Zukunftsprojekt werden, an dem alle teilhaben können und wollen?
Democracy Lab Zwischenbericht 2017/2018
Demokratie muss sich unentwegt selbst hinterfragen, um ihren zentralen Werten gerecht zu werden

Maria Skóra

Policy Fellow
Maria Skóra ist wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin am Institut für Europäische Politik und Policy Fellow beim Progressiven Zentrum. Zuvor war sie Leiterin des Programmbereichs Internationaler Dialog des Progressiven Zentrums. Sie hat einen Masterabschluss in Soziologie und promovierte in Wirtschaftswissenschaften. 2018 Alumna des Young Leaders Program des Aspen Institute Central Europe in Prag. 2019 Visiting Fellow beim German Marshall Fund of the United States und AICGS, Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC. Sie arbeitete zuvor für die Humboldt-Viadrina Governance Platform in Berlin und als Expertin für den Gesamtpolnischen Gewerkschaftsverband in Warschau.
New Progressive Ostpolitik for Europe
Current challenges of the European foreign policy vis-à-vis Russia
EU-Streit mit Ungarn: Wie geht es weiter?
Was kann der EU-skeptischen Haltung in der ungarischen Gesellschaft entgegengesetzt werden, um sie wieder auf einen proeuropäischen Kurs zu führen?
Ebook: “The Future of the Visegrad Group”
The ebook examines internal developments within the Visegrad Group and sketches scenarios for its engagement at the European level

Wir entwickeln und debattieren Ideen für den gesellschaftlichen Fortschritt – und bringen diejenigen zusammen, die sie in die Tat umsetzen. Unser Ziel als Think Tank: das Gelingen einer gerechten Transformation. ▸ Mehr erfahren