Keywords: Political Debates; Quasi-Experiment; European Elections; Media Event; Vote Intentions; Debate Exposure.
The Eurovision debate - broadcast simultaneously in all the European countries on 15th May 2014 - was the first-ever live televised debate among candidates for the European Commission (EC) president and the most important single campaign event of the 2014 European Parliament elections. What are the effects of the debate exposure on viewers? We answer this question by relying on data collected in a one-group pretest-posttest quasiexperiment conducted on students from the Universities of Bologna, Siena and Trento in the framework of a larger international project on the Eurovision debate. Results show that exposure to the Eurovision debate affects viewers' perception of Europe as well as their evaluation of the candidates to the EC presidency. Moreover, watching the European debate is found to stimulate political participation and alter voting intentions. Our results also give some interesting hints about the more general relation between the EU and young voters.