Is the European Union too complicated? Citizens’ lack of information and party cue effectiveness

by Roberto Pannico published European Union Politics
Previous literature suggests that citizens lack information about European Union politics and need party cues to develop attitudes toward European Union issues. This process would make party positions the cause rather than the consequence of voters’ preferences, reducing the accountability of the political elite. The article tests the premise of this top-down model investigating how issue complexity and citizens’ political knowledge affect party cue effectiveness. The results from both experimental and observational data show that party influence is higher among less knowledgeable citizens. Moreover, well-informed voters have autonomous opinions on easy issues, but they rely on party cues when facing harder ones. Given the low availability of information about European Union politics and the high complexity of the debated issues, parties appear largely able to shape voters’ attitudes.