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Institutionalisation of Political Parties: Comparative Cases. Edited by Robert Harmel and Lars G. Svasand

Public Opinion and Voting Behaviour in Congested and Contested Political Arena

Section Number
Section Chair
Kees Aarts
Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
Section Co-Chair
Hanna Wass
University of Helsinki

The contemporary European political agenda is perhaps more crowded than ever before. Various national and supra-national decision-making bodies are simultaneously dealing with issues such as slowly recovering economy, need for structural changes, climate change and an increasing number of immigrants and asylum seekers from war torn countries outside the EU. In many countries, the societal atmosphere is characterized by populist appeals and anti-immigrant sentiments, represented both by political parties and different types of actors in civil society. Such congested and contested political arena might cause two kinds of reactions in terms of public opinion and voting behavior. The first one relates to increasing polarization, which might actually mobilize political action even among previously disengaged voters. The second possible effect is large-scale withdrawal from politics, which might seem a particularly attractive option for voters with low sense of political efficacy. The obvious risk associated with the latter scenario is widening elitism in political behavior. These two kinds of reactions are of course not the only possible scenarios. A third possibility is that the national and/or international political arena finds ways to cope with congestion and contest. New democratic instruments (e.g. referendums, citizen’s assemblies) may help to reduce the pressure.

This Section addresses the problems just outlined from several perspectives, all closely connected to the heart of electoral democracy. These perspectives include: parties and
elections, the role of public opinion, equality of access to politics, developments in electoral politics, challenges to electoral democracy, enriching electoral democracy.

We expect to be able to offer at least 8 Panels in this Section.

Panel List

Code Title Details
P111Electoral Democracy in Congested and Contested Political Arenas of Europe: Challenges, Threats, Opportunities View Panel Details
P112Electoral Politics In and After the Crisis View Panel Details
P170How do Voters Arrive at Voting Decisions? View Panel Details
P179Immigration, Identity and Public Opinion in Europe View Panel Details
P256New Digital Media Developments and Public Opinion in Electoral Climates View Panel Details
P290Parties in Congested and Contested Political Arenas View Panel Details
P314Political Participation Trends in Contemporary Democracies View Panel Details
P330Populist Attitudes: Conceptualization, Measurement, and Evidence View Panel Details
P353Referendums on European integration View Panel Details
P453Turnout in the Congested and Contested Political Arena View Panel Details
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