Televised election debates in the Netherlands: Indirect ef ects on party preferences through media coverage

Jan Kleinnijenhuis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


Broadcasting many election debates in each election campaign became a characteristic of the multiparty electoral system of the Netherlands with its low-budget electoral campaigns. An overview of the most remarkable election debates over six decades shows that successful party strategies in one election to neglect smaller challengers, for example, turned into an electoral disaster in the next elections. Television broadcasters and newspapers alike have tried to represent the increased fragmentation of the Dutch party landscape, while also announcing in each upcoming campaign an overarching political cleavage marked by a tweestrijd, a titanic struggle, between two camps with one lead candidate each. Content analysis data reveal that one crucial debate may dramatically alter the media portrayal of issues owned by parties, of political cleavages apparent from support and criticism for parties from societal actors and political adversaries, and of party success or failure. Linking these data to panel survey data reveals that the influence of debates on voters is largely mediated by this follow-up portrayal in self-selected television news programs and newspapers. The perception of being the winner of televised debates makes a difference for voters, although even memories of having watched the debates may result from follow-up news.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge International Handbook on Electoral Debates
EditorsJulio Juárez-Gámiz, Christina Holtz-Bacha, Alan Schroeder
Place of PublicationAbingdon
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9780429331824
ISBN (Print)9780367355036, 9781032172620
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

NameRoutledge International Handbooks


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