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1st place: "Democracy Belief Systems in Europe: Cognitive Availability and Attitudinal Constraint", Enrique Hernández

This paper contributes to the emerging literature on citizens’ views and evaluations of democracy by analyzing to what extent ordinary citizens are capable of developing and elaborating structured opinions about democracy and its constitutive principles. In this paper the focus shifts from what people believe about democracy to an analysis of the extent to which mass publics are capable of developing coherently structured attitudes about a relatively abstract political domain such as democracy. Adapting Converse’s notion of Political Belief Systems (PBS) this paper analyzes the articulation of Europeans’ Democracy Belief Systems (DBS). The first goal of this paper is to operationalize and present an overview of the main components of individuals’ DBS: cognitive availability, horizontal constraint and vertical constraint. Drawing on data from the sixth round of the European Social Survey the second goal of this paper is to trace the most relevant individual- and country-level determinants of the articulation of the three components of DBS. In line with recent findings about domain- specific PBS, the results indicate that most Europeans have coherently structured attitudes about democracy. However, even if the results show that Europeans have a relatively articulated DBS, the empirical analysis also reveals some relevant individual- and country- level variation in the articulation of specific components of DBS.

2nd place (runner up): "Gender in the news: more pebbles in women’s political interest?", Irene Sánchez-Vítores

The gender gap in political interest remains one of the unsolved puzzles of the public opinion literature. Media has been found to play a role in shaping individuals' declared levels of political interest. To what extent do media contents and how they reflect gender roles affect declared levels of political interest in men and women? To answer this question, I combine data from the European Social Survey (waves 2, 5 and 7) and the Global Media Monitoring Programme (waves 2002, 2010 and 2015). The results show that having more women in the news is not enough to bridge the gender gap. However, an increased presence of women as news subjects in environments that are considered hard news, such as newspapers or news on politics or economy, tend to reduce the size of the effect of gender. In contrast, an increased presence of women in television led to a mild increase of the effect of gender.