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15th ECPR General Conference, University of Innsbruck

Turbulent Elections

Political Parties
Electoral Behaviour
Section Number
Section Chair
Maria Laura Sudulich
University of Essex
Section Co-Chair
Wouter van der Brug
University of Amsterdam

Elections are one of the core institutional arrangements in democracies to select candidates for political offices, to hold those in power accountable for their actions, and to provide politicians with a mandate to govern. In established democracies the electoral connection has for a long time been structured by relatively stable factors, such as religious denominations, class-positions and ideological leanings in terms of left/right. However, as these have become less important for structuring vote choices, especially for younger generations, this could lead to an increased importance of short-term determinants of the vote, such as issues, leadership evaluation and perhaps also evaluations of policies. We subsequently see much electoral volatility, very much at the expense of traditional mass parties, the Social Democrats and Christian democrats in particular. New parties are picking up support, particularly radical populist parties at the left and right end of the spectrum. The financial crisis and the refugee crisis of 2015 seem to have fueled some of these trends in a series of recent elections in the US, the UK (Brexit referendum), the Netherlands, France, Germany and Austria. In addition to these crises, these elections took place in the context of a rapidly changing media environment, which makes it easier for voters to lock themselves up in their own secluded internet bubble. Additionally, the increased role of short term forces in determining vote choice made of electoral campaigns key actors in the electoral process. Campaign styles have changed dramatically over time in the extent to which candidates and parties resort to traditional and new media of persuasion.

Our Section focuses on electoral research in a broad sense, with empirically grounded papers, which help us to understand the overarching trends of losses of mainstream parties and increasing support of challengers. Contributions will analyse processes that are currently unfolding and will shed light on campaign processes, support for populist parties, Euroscepticism and personalization of the electoral context.

Panel List

Code Title Details
P060Classic Topics in Electoral Research View Panel Details
P129Elections and the Role of Local, Regional and National Context View Panel Details
P133Electoral Violence and Manipulation Around the World View Panel Details
P208Immigrants as Voters and Immigration as an Issue View Panel Details
P336Political Leaders and Election Campaigns View Panel Details
P371Realignment and the Surge of the Radical Right View Panel Details
P459The Left and the Left Behind View Panel Details
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