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New Publication by Denise Traber (et.al.)
Errors have been made, others will be blamed: issue engagement and blame shifting in prime minister speeches during the economic crisis in Europe.
This article investigates prime ministers’ communication strategies during the most recent economic crisis in Europe. It argues that when electoral risk is high but governments’ policy options are severely limited, prime ministers will use specific communication strategies to mitigate electoral risks. Two such communication strategies are analysed – issue engagement and blame shifting – by applying state‐of‐the‐art quantitative text analysis methods on 5,553 speeches of prime ministers in nine European Union member states. Evidence is found for both strategies. Prime ministers talk about the economy more in response to both high (domestic) unemployment and low (domestic) gross domestic product growth. Furthermore, it is found that the (domestic) unemployment rate is the most consistent predictor of blame shifting: as the domestic unemployment rate goes up, this is followed by an increase in blame shifting towards banks, Greece and the Troika of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
Traber, Denise, Martijn Schoonvelde, and Gijs Schumacher. 2020. “Errors have been made, others will be blamed: issue engagement and blame shifting in prime minister speeches during the economic crisis in Europe.” European Journal of Political Research 59: 45–67.