Crisis elections and the primacy of policy: explaining media framing of election coverage
O'Malley, Eoin and Brandenburg, Heinz and Flynn, Roddy and McMenamin, Iain and Rafter, Kevin (2012) Crisis elections and the primacy of policy: explaining media framing of election coverage. Working Papers in International Studies. (Paper No. 2012-06). Dublin City University.
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Media coverage of elections in Europe and North America has increasingly tended to focus on the horse-race and the campaign as a game rather than the policy debate pertinent to the election. This is often explained by the changes in media pressures. It may also make sense given the narrowing of policy space between left and right and the comparative prosperity enjoyed in Europe and North America. But the relevance of politics varies. The economic crisis in the west might have led to an increased interest in policy among voters and focus on it by media. Ireland experienced both extremes of boom and crisis between the late 1990s and 2011. The Irish case allows us use a quasi-experimental approach to test the impact of crisis on media framing of elections. This article uses original data from Ireland’s last three elections, and with a design that shows when other pertinent variables are held constant, we find empirical support for the theoretical expectation that the context of the election affects the relative focus on campaign or horserace versus substantive policy issues.
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