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Political Behavior

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 645–663 | Cite as

Electoral Competitiveness and Issue Voting

  • Romain Lachat
Original Paper

Abstract

This article suggests that voters rely more strongly on “substantial” criteria, such as issues and ideology, when elections are competitive. In such contexts, voters should attach more importance to their own choice and rely less on “heuristics.” Three aspects of election competitiveness are considered: the fragmentation and polarization of the party system and the proportionality of the electoral system. Elections are more competitive when there are many parties in competition, when they differ strongly from one another in ideological terms, and when the threshold of representation is lower. These hypotheses are tested with data from the 2007 Swiss federal elections. The electoral districts differ markedly from one another as far as electoral competitiveness is concerned while being similar in many other respects. The results show that competitiveness strengthens issue voting and reduces the impact of party identification.

Keywords

Issue voting Party identification Polarization Fragmentation Electoral system 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research was financed by the Swiss National Science Foundation (Grant PZ_121606). Earlier versions of this article were presented at the 2009 ECPR General Conference, at the 2010 Conference of the Midwest Political Science Association and the 2010 Meeting of the American Political Science Association. I thank the Editors of this journal and three anonymous reviewers for their very helpful comments. All remaining errors remain my own.

Supplementary material

11109_2010_9151_MOESM1_ESM.doc (140 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 140 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political and Social SciencesPompeu Fabra UniversityBarcelonaSpain

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