Voters and Elections

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In this ambitious new text Cees van der Eijk and Mark N. Franklin set out to distil the essence of what we known about elections and voters.

They draw on a wide range of research from established democracies and beyond to provide an accessible introduction to the subject. The authors' prime concern is with the logic of representative democracy and the role of the electoral process within this logic. Their focus is on elections as opportunities for strategic action on the part of voters and politicians. Election outcomes thus appear as the result of the interplay of preferences and strategies, within the constraints of institutional arrangements and communication structures. The aim of the book, in short, is to explore how electoral democracy works, together with an assessment of how well it works, deploying the tools and theories of cutting-edge political science research.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781403941282
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 10/13/2009
  • Series: Political Analysis Series
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Cees Van Der Ejik is Professor of Political Science, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Mark N. Franklin is Reitemeyer Professor of International Politics, Trinity College.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures, Tables and Boxes viii

Preface and Acknowledgements xi

1 Why Elections? 1

Political parties 1

Functions of elections 4

The turnout paradox 6

Limitations of elections 7

Recurring themes 10

Voters, electorates, parties and party systems 12

The axis of political competition and the median voter 13

Representation 14

Electoral change 15

Topics 18

Countries 21

Institutional arrangements 21

Voters and the puzzle of the ignorant electorate 24

Plan of the book 25

2 Studying Elections, Parties and Voters 27

The political context: party systems 27

The Institutional context 29

Problems of parliamentary government 34

Problems of presidential systems 38

Government formation 39

How elections condition coalition bargaining 41

Institutional influences on the structure of political life 44

Habits and routines 46

Socialization, immunization and party identification 49

Preferences and choice 53

Institutional change 56

3 Electoral Institutions 58

Free and fair elections 58

votes and outcomes 59

Electoral rules 63

Trade-offs designing an electoral system 69

Electoral reform 71

Rules of the game for government formation 74

The role of the voters 78

The majoritarian and proportional visions 81

Dispersed versus concentrated power 83

Presidents and monarchs in parliamentary systems 84

4 Voters and Parties 87

Party immunization and generational differences 89

Group loyalties 92

The decline of cleavage politics 95

The rise of issue voting 98

Long-term changes in electoral competition 101

Strategic considerations 103

The role of the Prime Minister in parliamentary regimes 108

Tactical voting109

Candidate evaluations 113

Implications 114

5 Outcomes of Elections 118

Consequences of electoral shifts 119

Incumbency and terms limits 121

Accountability 123

Fairness in election outcomes 125

Trade-offs between proportional and majoritarian systems 127

Bias in election outcomes 129

Turnout and bias 130

Protest voting 131

The structuring effects of strategic considerations 136

Split-ticket voting, 'balance' and mid-term loss 138

Consequences of party positions 140

Leadership 143

Learning from elections 144

6 The Role of Public Opinion 146

Ways of studying public pinion 146

Why do people hold the opinions that they do? 147

The puzzle of the ignorant electorate 154

From issues to issue spaces 157

The issue space and proximity (smallest distance) theory 161

Party competence and issue ownership 166

The directional theory of party support 168

The responsiveness of public opinion 170

The swing of the pendulum 174

A sophisticated electorate? 177

7 Voter Orientations 179

The decline of partnership 179

Generational replacement and electoral change 182

Political change and political realignments 183

The hands of the past 187

The dynamics of generational replacement 189

Events and economic news 194

Studying party preferences 194

What accounts for preferences? 199

Mandates versus accountability (prospective versus retrospective voting) 207

Effects on preferences in newly established and consolidating democracies 208

8 Assessing Electoral Democracy 213

Representing citizens'; preferences 213

Do elections matter? 220

What we have learned 222

The quality of electoral processes 223

Evaluating the institutional arrangements for electoral democracy 228

What role for electoral democracy? 232

Possibilities for reform 234

A work in progress 239

Appendix: Use of Statistical Analysis 240

Notes 247

Guide to Further Reading 252

Bibliography 265

Author Index 292

Subject Index 298

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