December 2, 2022

Katjana Gatterman, 2022, “The Personalization of Politics within the European Union”, Oxford College Press. Credit score: Oxford College Press

Particular person politicians and their messages are more and more vital to our curiosity and confidence in politics. Simply take into consideration the political figures in your nation and the way they affect your opinion. However little is understood about how the personalization of politics works in European Union politics. Do we discover personalization of politics on the EU stage and does it affect our opinion concerning the EU? With a wealth of empirical proof, communication researcher Katjana Gattermann concludes that personalization of EU politics depends on institutional media and temporal contexts and to this point has restricted influence on European residents’ consciousness, belief and curiosity in EU politics.

The connection between media and politics is of a reciprocal nature in democratic societies. Media maintain political actors publicly accountable, whereas politicians usually draw media consideration to tell their voters about their very own achievements. When politicians more and more change into the principle focus of political processes and the principle drivers of voter alternative, we name this the personalization of politics. It’s effectively established in politics on the nationwide stage, however much less is understood about this phenomenon in European Union politics.

Current political developments point out {that a} related development can be underway at EU stage, for instance the introduction of the so-called Spitzenkandidaten process for the European Parliament elections in 2014. For the primary time, giant European celebration households had been inspired to appoint high candidates to to extend curiosity in and consciousness of the elections amongst European residents. Can personalization make EU politics extra accessible to its residents?

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Personalization with regard to establishments, media, politics and residents

In her new e book “The Personalization of Politics within the European Union”, communication scientist Katjana Gattermann examines personalization with regard to establishments, media, politics and residents within the European Union. “Establishments are vital as a result of the formal personalization of guidelines and procedures empowers media and in the end residents to carry accountable decision-makers to account,” she explains. Gattermann additionally considers it related to grasp to what extent the media personalize their information from Brussels and Strasbourg. “Information media are a vital hyperlink between EU residents and their representatives.”

However politicians should additionally make themselves seen within the political debate. Gattermann argues that “if there is no such thing as a personalization within the conduct of politicians, the media will in all probability have a tough time informing residents concerning the efficiency of their representatives. And if the media doesn’t choose up extra private conduct, they’ll’t hyperlink between representatives. and people they signify.”

Extra personalization depends upon home media and electoral programs

Gattermann believes that institutional personalization, as initiated by the Spitzenkandidaten process, is a crucial however not ample situation for media to more and more cowl particular person politicians, as a result of media personalization with regard to European Commissioners and Members of the European Parliament ( MEPs) fluctuates from nation to nation. after some time.

This fluctuation has not stood in the best way of personalization amongst politicians. MEPs’ legislative conduct is characterised by extra personalization over time, measured by the quantity of particular person parliamentary questions they ask. Furthermore, an in depth evaluation of Dutch MEPs exhibits that their legislative and social media conduct have change into extra intertwined over time. They’ve additionally change into simpler at influencing conventional and social media agendas with their legislative actions.

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These developments have to this point had restricted influence on European residents. “On a basic stage, I discovered solely weak associations between media personalization and residents’ belief within the EU,” says Gattermann. “There may be additionally restricted help for a causal hyperlink between customized political information and residents’ perception that the EU is addressing their issues.” Outcomes of a case examine on information preferences of German voters recommend that residents can present extra curiosity in customized EU politics if in addition they have (prior) details about the background of EU politicians (e.g. operate, celebration membership, experience).

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Gattermann initially anticipated that personalization would enhance curiosity in EU information and politics, because it provides human faces to the summary and complicated political system of the EU. Nevertheless, Gattermann concludes that the politics of the European Union has solely change into extra complicated to disentangle with extra political actors who’re given formal particular person tasks. “In the end, establishments present simpler cues than particular person politicians, each for the media to tell residents about European Union politics and for residents to acquire info that may assist them perceive and consider European Union politics.”


These findings have vital implications for EU politicians, journalists, residents and future analysis. “Though the media studies on particular person politicians, there’s a clearer development within the latter in the direction of extra personalization,” explains Gattermann.

“This raises the query of whether or not the media, with their predominant give attention to establishments, paints an correct image of the political actuality within the EU. Equally, whereas media protection and residents’ information preferences are inclined to To align their give attention to establishments on the expense of particular person politicians, voters could have too little info when requested to decide on between events and their (lead) candidates in European elections. However among the threats that persona politics can pose to democracy in nationwide politics, will not be (but) relevant to the EU given the restricted proof for customized EU politics.”

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