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Gendering the European Parliament

Political Elites and Voters in Electoral Democracies

Comparative Perspective
Electoral Behaviour
Section Number
Section Chair
Ioannis Andreadis
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Section Co-Chair
Georg Lutz
Université de Lausanne

This Section focuses on the role of political elites in electoral democracies and the linkage between political elites and voters. The Section will include Papers which give answers on a series of questions about parliamentary candidates and MPs: What is the candidates’ political background and what kind of groups, organizations or associations have endorsed them? What are the most influential factors in deciding candidacy nomination and what contributes to the electoral success of certain candidates under varying levels of intraparty competition? What is the role of new technology tools and social media in the individual candidate campaigns, do they aim to attract attention to their parties or to themselves and what is the impact of the electoral systems and the seat allocation algorithms on their campaign strategies? Do party elites consider themselves as delegates, trustees or partisans? What are their policy preferences, what are their attitudes towards EU and what is their opinion about the recent financial crisis of many European countries? Finally, what is their opinion about the way that democracy functions and the quality of political representation in their country?

In addition to studies focusing on the aforementioned questions about political elites, we are interested in developing a deeper understanding of the linkage between voters and political elites. Political representation is not possible without some sort of connection between the preferences and interests, the identities and desires of the represented and what the representatives articulate and promote. The nature, mechanics and functionality of this connection is usually debated in terms of policy and/or ideological congruence. In fact, ideological congruence is one of the most commonly used measurements of the quality of a democracy. In the past, congruence was typically studied by comparing the attitudes of voters with what Panels of experts considered to be the attitudes of politicians or the positions of parties, but recently a growing number of published studies, instead of evaluations by experts, use surveys of elected MPs or candidates in order to study the voter-representative congruence as a many-to-many relationship. Arguably, such a methodological orientation offers a more direct representation of political elite preferences and desires. In addition, this approach provides an additional advantage: an estimate of the within party variance for both the supply (candidates) and the demand side (voters) of a party. This is important information because for many political parties the intra-party cohesiveness should not be taken for granted.

One of the motives of this Section is the forthcoming availability of the first release of the Comparative Candidate Survey Module II dataset. Thus, we will present Papers that will use CCS data or combine with voter data to demonstrate the linkage between political elites and voters. In addition, Papers will focus on theoretical or methodological aspects related to political elites, and use other datasets related to political elites.

The Section, “Political Elites and Voters in Electoral Democracies”, although it is not initiated by one of the ECPR Standing Groups, it is supported by two: The ECPR Standing Group on Public Opinion and Voting Behaviour in a Comparative Perspective and the ECPR Standing Group on Elites and Political Leadership. Finally, the Section is initiated and endorsed by the Comparative Candidates Survey, a joint multi-national project with the goal of collecting data on candidates running for national parliamentary elections in different countries using a common core questionnaire.

Panel List

Code Title Details
P024Background, Representation, and Communication: Parliamentary Candidates in a Comparative Perspective View Panel Details
P043Candidate Selection in Comparative Perspective View Panel Details
P081Congruence, Anti-Establishment and Populism View Panel Details
P134Elite Responsiveness to Voters View Panel Details
P178Gender Dimensions in Campaigns and Electoral Performance View Panel Details
P238Intraparty Competition Under Proportional Representation View Panel Details
P310Party Polarization – Similarities and Differences Between Voters and Candidates View Panel Details
P317Personalisation, Social Media and Electoral Success View Panel Details
P514Voter-Party Congruence in Comparative Perspective View Panel Details
P523Are Women Still Discriminated at the Polls? View Panel Details
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