Political Behavior

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 645–663

Electoral Competitiveness and Issue Voting

Original Paper


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.


Issue voting Party identification Polarization Fragmentation Electoral system 

Supplementary material

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

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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