The presence of a process of dealignment is likely to have fundamentally affected voting and the process of representation more specifically. It is generally assumed that representation can be reached in two different ways; by representatives who act as mandates of the views of their voters or by means of an accountability-mechanism (Przeworski, Stokes & Manin, 1999). The focus of the workshop will be on the second mechanism: accountability.
Vote choice processes in advanced democracies have changed substantially over the past few decades. The bonds between parties and citizens have weakened through a process of dealignment; this has led to a decrease of party membership, partisan loyalties, declining turnout figures, increased volatility and an increased weight of short-term voting determinants (Dalton & Wattenberg, 2000; Franklin, 2004; Walczak, van der Brug & De Vries, 2012). Importantly, a large group of scholars have indicated that the weight of politicians’ personality in the vote choice process is increasing (Karvonen, 2010; Mughan, 2000). Furthermore, we know that voters decide ever later what party to vote for on Election Day (Blais, 2004). This increase of late deciding has consequently led to an increased importance of election campaigns (Kosmidis & Xezonakis, 2010).
The accountability mechanism is likely to be affected by the process of dealignment. The workshop will focus on two related aspects of the process of dealignment, the weakening of partisan ties and the growing of the personalization of politics, and their effects on accountability. The specific questions to be addressed are whether the waning of partisanship has led to an increase or decrease of accountability, whether non partisans are more or less prone to reward or punish incumbents, whether parties or rather party leaders are held accountable by voters, and whether the rise of ‘new’ and ‘protest’ parties increases or hinders accountability.