2014 EU Elections in Romania and Bulgaria

The project was financed by Sofia University St.Kliment Ohridski  – University Research Complex  Alma Mater

Contract Number:  DUNK01-1/22.12.2009

Period of time: June-July 2014

Project proposal

The new information technologies are currently considered as having a central role in securing the access and participation to the political life (Bennett, Fielding, 1997; Becker, 2001; Harwit, Clark, 2001; Snellen, 2001;

Drezner, Farrell, 2004). These technologies are facilitating the fast accumulation and dissemination of the interactions, communication and group collaboration (Norris, 1999). At the same time, they have a civical role, as they allow to an increasing number of citizens to participate at the public debate and become familiar with the opinions and events which have an influence over their daily life (Jankowski, van Selm, 2000; La Porte, 2001;

Oates, 2003). The theories of political mobilization sustain that the access to information enables the citizens to monitor the actions of Governments and election campaigns (Berry, 1984; Bimber, 2001).

According to Reif and Schmitt (1980) the Europarliamentary elections are second order national elections and they are always influenced by the national elections, those being first order national elections. In additions, the Europarliamentary elections are internal contests among national political parties and candidates, their agenda being made almost exclusively from internal issues and the issues related to European Union’s activity placing second as relevance for the voters. The profound cause of labelling the Europarliamentary elections as secind order national elections is the lack of a common European government (Hix, Marsch, 2011). At the level of mass media this meant that the Europarliamentary elections are frequently labelled as non-issues (De Vreese, 2001) – those elections have no newsworthiness (as the main news value), and, as consequences, they are less covered by mass media and media play a less significant role in informing and mobilizing the electorate during the Europarliamentary elections campaign (De Vreese, 2009).

For Bulgaria and Romania  (as two new member states of the European Union – they were addmitted as member states on the 1st of January 2007) the Europarliamentary elections from May 2014 will be the second Europarliamentray elections (after the elections held in June 2007). The two countries has both a common past (especially the communist period and the democratic transition that followed it) and a set of common goals as members of the European Union.  Despite those similarities it could be supoosed that Europarliamentary elections and campaign have national pecularities in setting up the political and media agendas and, from here, mass media can play different roles in informing and mobilizing citizens during that period of time. The aim of the research project is to find what are those pecularities for the Bulgarian case and, after that, to make possible a comparative analysis between the two contries (e.g. Bulgaria and Romania).

The project has two main research objectives:

1. To identify the peculiarities of media strategies used by the competitors in the Bulgarian and Romanian Europarliamentary campaign;

2. To analyze the ways in which both traditional and new (e.g. Internet) media influence the level of information and mobilization of Bulgarian and Romanian citizens about the European Union.

Accordingly, the project will seek answers at two research questions:

(1) What are the main characteristics of the Bulgarian and Romanian traditional and new media uses during the Europarliamentary campaign of 2014?;

(2) What are the influence of the media on the levels of information and mobilization of Bulgarian and Romanian citizens  for the Euro-parliamentary campaign of 2014?

The answers at the above-mentioned questions and the attainment of the two main research objectives implyes a direct, empirical field-research project.

Conferences organized within and related to the project

November 2014 – University of Bucharest – Faculty of Sociology and Social Work and Faculty of Journalism and Communication Sciences – International Conference Society, Media and Politics.

Papers- Conferences

31 October – 1 November 2014 – The role of media in 2014 European Elections in Romania and Bulgaria – paper accepted at the Vth International Conference on Digital Culture and Society, South West University, Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria

10-11 November 2014 – Media and European Elections – A comparative analysis of media influence during 2014 Europarliamentary Campaign in Romania and Bulgaria – paper accepted at the Vth International Seminar “Media, Democracy and Citizenship in the Digital Era”- Centro de Investigacao Media e Jornalismo – New University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal.