The European Election Studies (EES) are about electoral participation and voting behaviour in European Parliament elections, but more than that. They are also concerned with the evolution of an EU political community and a European public sphere, with citizens’ perceptions of and preferences about the EU political regime, and with their evaluations of EU political performance. The project was started in 1979 by a trans-national group of electoral researchers and Europeanists some of which are still on board. Between 1979 and 2009, 7 election studies were prepared and 6 of them were realised. In 2004 national study directors – rather than the international research group – funded and conducted the 2004 study in 24 of the 25 EU member-countries. Some of the activities of the EES 2004 were supported by CONNEX, a network of excellence funded by the European Commission under the 6th framework programme. The PIREDEU design study under the 7th framework programme enabled an even larger group of researchers to prepare and conduct the EES 2009.
European Election Studies include more components than the postelection surveys among representative samples of voters. These additional components include content analyses of party manifestos (“Euromanifestos”) , elite surveys, and content analyses of media news.
With the notable exception of the 2009 PIREDEU study which was co-ordinated by the EUI in Florence, the University of Mannheim has been the home of the series of European Election Studies from 1979 on. The next European Election Study, EES 2014, will again be co-ordinated at the MZES at the University of Mannheim.
The data and documentation associated with the EES study components are available for download, with a few exceptions, at the Data Archive of GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences. The GESIS Data Archive specializes in providing excellent data service for national and for internationally comparative surveys from the fields of social and political science research.