Francisco Seoane Pérez is completing his PhD on the EU’s so-called ‘communications deficit’ at the Institute of Communications Studies, University of Leeds. His Master’s thesis from the University of Illinois at Chicago, supported by the Fundación Pedro Barrié de la Maza, formed the basis of a chapter (with Steve Jones) in the book Cultura digital y movimientos sociales, (eds. I. Sádaba and A.J. Gordo, Catarata, 2008). His research interests include the role of journalism in democracy and the impact of the Internet on political engagement.
For more information: http://ics.leeds.ac.uk/staff/f.perez
European politics in the regional press: A comparative study of Yorkshire (UK) and Galicia (Spain)
After the 2005 negative results of the EU Constitutional referenda in France and the Netherlands, European leaders blamed such a strong reaction on a presumed ‘communications problem’. Defining the EU’s so-called ‘communication gap’ as a twin deficit comprised of a lack of domestication (the EU is seen as remote) and a lack of politicisation (compromise replaces the left/right divide), the news about European issues in two regional newspapers are analysed and compared in order to assess how the EU is domesticated and politicised at the closest level at which the EU has a significant presence: the regions. The comparative case studies are La Voz de Galicia (from Galicia, Spain) and The Yorkshire Post (from Yorkshire, UK). Galicia and Yorkshire differ in their popular acceptance of the EU (Galicia being pro-EU, Yorkshire eurosceptic), but both regions enjoy a strong local identity and their respective mediascapes are dominated by the newspapers under study. A sample of more than 100 news stories that linked the name of the region with the EU was analysed from each newspaper (La Voz de Galicia, n=158; Yorkshire Post, n=125) for the time-period of the latest European parliamentary legislature (2004-2009). In Yorkshire, the ‘euroscepticism versus europhilia’ frame was found to be the main means of politicising the EU, whereas in Galicia the mobilisation of elites to defend the regional interests was the primary way of making the EU political. In both regions the left/right divide was mostly absent. As for domestication, in Galicia European politics were positively domesticated vertically (the EU is seen as broadly sympathetic to the regional demands) and horizontally (other European regions are portrayed as having similar needs to those of Galicia). In Yorkshire the domestication of the EU is made more difficult by the constant challenge of its legitimacy, with the main opposition party (the Conservatives) claiming that regional funds would be spent on different priorities if they were managed from London instead of Brussels. These results are read in the light of Jürgen Habermas’ and Carl Schmitt’s theories, discussing how ideas like ‘representative publicity’ or the ‘crisis of parliamentarism’ explain the reasons why the EU is ‘apolitical’ irrespective of its degree of domestication (strong in Galicia, weak in Yorkshire).
Keywords: EU’s communications gap, regional press, politicisation, domestication.