In the Shadow of Brexit: The 2019 European Parliament Elections as First-Order Polity Elections?

Charlotte Galpin, Hans Jörg Trenz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


European Parliament (EP) elections have traditionally been described as ‘second-order national elections' in which campaigns are fought by national parties on national issues. We argue that the 2019 elections should instead be considered ‘first-order polity' elections. It is not EU-level party politics or policy issues that are debated, but rather the legitimacy of the EU itself. Firstly, the EP elections have transformed into an EU ‘blame game' in which national governments are punished or rewarded over their stance on European integration. Secondly, the 2019 election was about the EU's fundamental values, not only with respect to multiculturalism, but also gender equality and LGBTQ rights. Finally, these first-order polity elections are driven in large part by traditional news and social media platforms. While this is a long way from the patterns of the early EP elections, they still fail in fulfilling the function of holding MEPs and European party groupings adequately to account.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)664-671
Number of pages8
JournalPolitical Quarterly
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Authors 2019. The Political Quarterly © The Political Quarterly Publishing Co. Ltd. 2019 Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Copyright 2019 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • European Parliament elections
  • European Union
  • gender equality
  • news media
  • social media
  • values

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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