The effect of European Parliament elections on political socialisation
Do European Parliament (EP) elections have adverse effects on the political socialisation of individuals? Instilling a lasting political disaffection in impressionable voters, the supranational contest may have negative consequences for long-term political socialisation. Relying on a large cross-national dataset from 2004, I identify the causal effect of first-time eligibility and voting in the EP elections by exploiting the exogenous variation in adolescents' birth months. The results of a discontinuity design show that the elections do not politically disengage young voters or strengthen their party bonds to radical or Eurosceptic parties. Instead, the EP elections arouse their political interest in general and their European interest in particular; a long-lasting effect that persists for more than five years. Placebo tests and various robustness tests confirm the results. Considering that individuals are most receptive towards political socialisation stimuli during early adulthood, this study sheds light on the integrative potential of the EP elections.