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News Effects on Disregarded Opinions: Media and Public Opinion in the EU-Ukraine Association Treaty Referendum

Fri, May 26, 9:30 to 10:45, Hilton San Diego Bayfront, Floor: 2, Indigo Ballroom H


The research question to be addressed is whether the issues dominated the news in the campaign on the EU-Ukraine association treaty influenced turnout and the vote in the Dutch April 2016 referendum on the latter. Data come from a content analysis of newspapers and television and two additional waves of a representative panel survey study before and after the referendum. Waves from 2014 showed that the news about Ukraine evoked inconsistent political opinions, e.g. against labour immigrants from Ukraine, but in favour of a strong EU response against Russia. News about the Ukraine in self-selected media influenced perceptions of advantages and disadvantages of the treaty. Without either perceptions of advantages or disadvantages voters did not cast a vote at all, but they almost disregarded specific opinions about the treaty in their yes or no, which was driven by prior EU attitudes, changes in these thereafter, and by opinions on immigrants.