European elections in times of polarisation and disinformation

This May will see the next European Parliament election. Electorates of 28 member states will cast their vote in a democratic process that, in the last four years, has been challenged, debated and, as some argue, misunderstood and misrepresented. In this event, SPUI25 discusses the context of opinions and information in which Europe is heading for the ballot.

If the elections of 2014 were fraught with economic issues resulting from the Eurozone Crisis and economic recession, few in Europe could have fathomed then the current political fractures and pressures facing the ongoing European project. Tonight, SPUI25 joins forces with ACES, CPC, and the ERC project Europinions, to provide an overview of some of these issues in a series of brief introductions on related themes. Subsequently, the speakers will engage in debate with one another and the audience, moderated by Claes de Vreese.

In the first talk, De Vreese gauges the current atmosphere and public opinion toward the EU in the Netherlands. How divided is the Dutch electorate? Is a ‘Nexit’ a possibility? And is the course politicians are taking in alignment with the voters? In short – what should we expect of the EP elections here?

Stijn Peeters will then expand on his research into ‘extreme speech’ in relation to the EU. How extreme is this discourse, and what is the impact of fringe groups? Are we currently witnessing  a ‘toxic online environment’, and what would that entail with regards to the elections?

Finally, Andreas Goldberg will speak about mis- and disinformation in the EP election context, and focus on the current concerns around ‘polluting’ of information-ecologies. What role do the media play during the election campaign and to what extent is mis- and disinformation a concern for the electorate? And perhaps most importantly – might this affect the integrity of the EP elections?

About the speakers

Claes de Vreese is Professor and Chair of Political Communication and Program Group Director of Political Communication & Journalism at The Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR), University of Amsterdam. He directs the UvA Research Priority Area Communication. He is the founding director of the Center for Politics and Communication. He directs a 5 year, multi-country research program on the antecedents and consequences of citizens’ attitudes towards the EU (EUROPINIONS).

Stijn Peeters is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Amsterdam. He is attached to the ERC-funded ODYCCEUS project, which intends to understand European political conflict online, and the Open Intelligence Lab, an Amsterdam-based collective of researchers studying political fringe internet spaces. His research interests include internet history, fringe platforms and online subcultures.

Andreas Goldberg is postdoctoral researcher at the Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR), University of Amsterdam. He is working on the EUROPINIONS project, which analyses causes and consequences of change in public opinion about Europe. His research interests include EU attitudes, campaign effects and political behaviour in elections and referendums, as well as survey research, particularly nonresponse bias and misreporting.

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