I am Assistant Professor of Political Communication and Journalism at the Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR), Department of Communication Science, University of Amsterdam. My research interests comprise political communication, political behaviour, public opinion and legislative behaviour with a regional focus on the European Union. My work feeds into debates about the legitimacy and accountability of politics. I am currently leading a research project entitled ‘Facing Europe: The personalization of European Union politics in news coverage and its consequences for democracy’, which is funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). As part of the project, I am preparing a book manuscript, which is under contract with Oxford University Press. My publications have appeared in journals such as the European Journal of Political Research, European Union Politics, the International Journal of Press/Politics, the Journal of European Public Policy, and West European Politics. I was previously postdoctoral researcher for ACCESS EUROPE; and before that postdoc at the Jean Monnet Chair of Prof Wolfgang Wessels, Political Science Department, University of Cologne, where I was member of the former internationally collaborative research project ‘Observatory of Parliaments after Lisbon’ (OPAL). I obtained my PhD in European Politics from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2012. I am the Convenor of the ECPR Standing Group ‘Political Communication’, which I co-founded as a Research Network with Jonas Lefevere in 2017. I was also founding director of the Erasmus Academic Network on Parliamentary Democracy in Europe (PADEMIA), which brought together 56 research and teaching institutes from all over Europe between 2013 and 2016. I am member of the advisory board of the LSE ‘Europe in Question’ Discussion Paper Series (LEQS), published by the European Institute at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Elections, Election Administration, and Voting Behavior
Personalization Of Politics
European Union Politics
The personalization of politics is a popular thesis but often challenged when it comes to media personalization. While previous research compared the prominence of different types of political actors across national political contexts, this article situates its research in the context of European Union (EU) politics and, thereby, studies similar reference points across countries. Its focus lies on the European Commission and its members. Personalization is conceptualized as individualization and presidentialization, respectively. The article proposes that the EU integration process provides journalists with the opportunity to report more often about individual politicians, while political developments should further incentivize journalists to personalize their news from Brussels. To test this argument, the article investigates personalization patterns in seven broadsheets from Ireland, Britain, France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, and Poland. In total, 119,070 articles are analyzed by automated content analysis over a period of twenty-five years. The article finds no pan-European trend toward greater personalization of politics with respect to news coverage of EU executive politics. The findings nonetheless provide important implications for future research. The article particularly discusses the universal applicability of the phenomenon, the time frame for analysis, and journalistic styles in covering European politics.
We study the personalization of voting behaviour in European Parliament elections. We argue that information from the media is crucial for providing linkages between candidates and voters. Moreover, we contend that candidates can serve as information short-cuts given the complexity of European Union politics. We use a four-wave Dutch panel survey and a media study that enable us to link evaluations of lead candidates, party preferences, and vote choice to exposure to news about these candidates. We show, firstly, that exposure to candidate news is a strong explanatory factor for candidate recognition. Secondly, we find that candidate evaluations positively affect party choice, albeit mainly for those voters who tend to be politically aware. Our research has implications for debates about the European Union’s accountability deficit.
The 2014 European Parliament (EP) elections were characterised by a novel element in European Union (EU) politics. For the first time, the major European party families put forward top candidates for President of the European Commission, the so-called Spitzenkandidaten. This paper tests whether this innovation had the potential to—at least partially—alleviate the alleged accountability deficit. We rely on original survey data to assess citizens’ preferences for each of the main Spitzenkandidaten: Jean-Claude Juncker, Martin Schulz, and Guy Verhofstadt. Our research is guided by three questions: what explains whether citizens formulate a preference for a certain Spitzenkandidat? Which factors are responsible for variations in such preferences? And, are these explanations moderated by citizens’ political awareness? We show that three factors enable citizens to formulate a preference for the Spitzenkandidaten: news exposure, general EU political information, and campaign-specific information about the Spitzenkandidaten. Furthermore, we demonstrate that only the most knowledgeable citizens are able to use party cues in their evaluations of the Spitzenkandidaten. The implications of our findings are discussed with reference to the EU’s democratic deficit debate.
Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) represent their citizens in European Union policy making, having the power to approve, amend or reject the near majority of legislation. The media inform EU citizens about their representatives and are able to hold them publicly accountable. However, we know little about whether, and to what extent, MEPs are visible in the news. This study investigates the visibility of MEPs in national broadsheets in Britain, France, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy. It seeks to explain individual‐level variation by employing an original dataset of news visibility of 302 MEPs over a period of 25 months (September 2009–September 2011) and tests the applicability of the news values and mirror theories in the context of supranational politics. The results show that political office, length of tenure and domestic party leadership have a positive effect. Legislative activities have a mixed effect on MEP news visibility. Attendance negatively affects news visibility, while non‐attached MEPs receive more news coverage. In short, despite the core supranational nature of EP legislative politics, MEP news visibility primarily depends on journalists’ domestic considerations. This informs both our understanding of MEP parliamentary behaviour and journalism studies in the context of the EU.
Few political communication studies deal with the European Parliament during non-election times even though it takes decisions in a wide range of policy areas. This study examines the patterns and external drivers of European Parliament broadsheet coverage by analysing 2155 articles from six European Union countries during a routine period (2005–2007). Generally, it finds that the European Parliament receives regular coverage. However, developments in the domestic context also influence European Parliament news coverage. Public support for the European Union increases the number of reports about the European Parliament. While national elections do not compromise its news coverage, higher levels of party political contestation over the European Union and trust towards the national parliament lead to lower coverage. The implications are discussed with reference to the European Parliament’s democratic legitimacy.