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Does Issue Salience Affects Citizens' Evaluation of European Leadership? A Comparison between the Constitutional and the Eurozone Crises

Isabel Camisão

Does the perceived stakes of an issue influence citizens' assessment of leadership and their support for the leaders? Could the same leader (and leadership type) be loved or hated depending on the type of crisis he or she is dealing with? Or is it simply a matter of leadership efficiency? Building on leadership and crisis approaches and also on political support literature, this article analyses European leadership during two different crises: the rejection of the constitutional treaty and the on going Eurozone crisis. In both, Chancellor Angela Merkel took on a leadership role. But whereas during the first crisis, chancellor Merkel leadership was applauded, throughout the latter her leadership has been subject to an array of criticisms. This article seeks to explain this notorious shift in public support. In particular, the article aims to establish to what extent different types of crises and, more specifically, variations in issue salience (swayed for instance by media reporting) affect the attention and the evaluation of Europeans citizens regarding European leadership.

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