Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What if...

The Monkey Cage blog featured part of an excerpt from a recent paper comparing EU and US elections. Good ideas your students might consider.

What If Europe Held an Election and No One Cared?
Last June’s European Parliament (EP) election was widely recognized to be a failure. Turnout was low across Europe and, as has been the case in each and every EP election since they were introduced in 1979, voters responded exclusively to domestic cues in deciding how to fill the European Union’s only directly-elected body. Campaigns were waged entirely on domestic issues outside of the purview of the EP and the popularity of domestic Prime Ministers, who were not on the ballot, was the most important factor in determining the results…

This paper argues that the problem of EP elections is much like problems in a variety of American state and local elections. Election laws ensure that national parties are on the ballot, and both legal limitations and strategic considerations make it difficult for major parties to develop separate localized identities…

Joshua Tucker, of New York University, comments, "I very much like the link between US elections and European elections. Europeans sometimes seem to have a 'sky is falling' reaction to low turnout rates, and there is a lot that can be learned from comparing turnout in the US and Europe…"

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