Do the media set the parliamentary agenda? A comparative study in seven countries

Rens Vliegenthart, Stefaan Walgrave , Frank R. Baumgartner, Shaun Bevan, Christian Breunig, Sylvain Brouard, Laura Chaqués Bonafont , Emiliano Grossman, Will Jennings, Peter B. Mortensen, Ana M. Palau, Pascal Sciarini, Anke Tresch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A growing body of work has examined the relationship between media and politics from an agenda-setting perspective: is attention for issues initiated by political elites with the media following suit, or is the reverse relation stronger? A long series of single-country studies has suggested a number of general agenda-setting patterns but these have never been confirmed in a comparative approach. In a comparative, longitudinal design including comparable media and politics evidence for seven European countries (Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the UK), this study highlights a number of generic patterns. Additionally, we show how the political system matters. Overall, the media are a stronger inspirer of political action in countries with single-party governments compared to countries with multiple-party governments. But, this larger media effect under single-party governments is fully due to the higher reactivity of the opposition parties; government parties are more reactive to media under multi-party governments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-301
JournalEuropean Journal of Political Research
Issue number2
Early online date15 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016


  • agenda-setting
  • comparative research
  • media
  • parliamentary questions
  • political systems

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