A Behavioral Theory of Electoral Structure

Original Paper

Abstract

Why are party systems in modern democracies so essentially robust? We theorize patterns of electoral competition as the outcome of a struggle between entropy and structure. Forces of entropy entail idiosyncratic voting behavior guided by subjective evaluations, while forces of structure entail coordinated behavior emerging from objective aspects of party preference. Our model locates determinants of party preference on a continuum spanning subjective and objective concerns. Entropy is endemic but elections for nationwide executive office periodically prime objective concerns, reinstating structure in party systems. We demonstrate the cyclical pulse of national elections in a comparative analysis of pseudo-randomized survey data from the European Election Studies since 1989. We also show how feedback from differently-sized party systems consolidates different working equilibria.

Keywords

Electoral cycles Party systems Voting behavior 

Supplementary material

11109_2017_9425_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (143 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 143 kb)

References

  1. Alesina, A., & Rosenthal, H. (1995). Partisan politics, divided government and the economy. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Andersen, R., Tilley, J., & Heath, A. F. (2005). Political knowledge and enlightened preferences: Party choice through the electoral cycle. British Journal of Political Science, 35(2), 285–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Austen-Smith, D., & Banks, J. (1988). Elections, coalitions, and legislative outcomes. American Political Science Review, 82(2), 405–422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bargsted, M. A., & Kedar, O. (2009). Coalition-targeted Duvergerian voting: How expectations affect voter choice under proportional representation. American Journal of Political Science, 53(2), 307–323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beck, U. (1992). Risk society: Towards a new modernity. London: SAGE.Google Scholar
  6. Bendor, J., Diermeier, D., Siegel, D. A., & Ting, M. M. (2011). A behavioral theory of elections. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Bolleyer, N., & Bytzek, E. (2013). Origins of party formation and new party success in advanced democracies. European Journal of Political Research, 52(6), 773–796.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bølstad, J., Dinas, E., & Riera, P. (2013). Tactical voting and party preferences: A test of cognitive dissonance theory. Political Behavior, 35(3), 429–452.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bowler, S., Grofman, B., & Blais, A. (2009). The United States: A case of Duvergerian equilibrium. In B. Grofman, A. Blais, & S. Bowler (Eds.), Duverger’s law of plurality voting (pp. 135–146). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Campbell, A. (1960). Surge and decline: A study of electoral change. Public Opinion Quarterly, 24(3), 397–418.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Campbell, J. E. (1993). The presidential pulse of congressional elections. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky.Google Scholar
  12. Campbell, A., Converse, P. E., Miller, W. E., & Stokes, D. E. (1960). The American voter. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  13. Campbell, A., & Valen, H. (1961). Party identification in Norway and the United States. Public Opinion Quarterly, 25(4), 505–525.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Carrubba, C. J., & Timpone, R.J. (2005). Explaining vote switching across first- and second-order elections: Evidence from Europe. Comparative Political Studies, 38(3), 260–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Casal Bértoa, F., & Weber, T. 2016. Party system change in times of crisis. Paper for the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Philadelphia, PA.Google Scholar
  16. Converse, P. E. (1966). The concept of a normal vote. In A. Campbell, P. E. Converse, W. E. Miller, & D. E. Stokes (Eds.), Elections and the political order (pp. 9–39). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  17. Cox, G. W. (1997). Making votes count: Strategic coordination in the world’s electoral systems. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dalton, R. J., Flanagan, S. C., & Beck, P. A. (Eds.). (1984). Electoral change in advanced industrial democracies: Realignment or dealignment?. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Dassonneville, R., & Hooghe, M. 2011. Mapping electoral volatility in Europe: an analysis of trends in electoral volatility in European democracies since 1945. Paper for the European Conference on Comparative Electoral Research, Sofia, Bulgaria.Google Scholar
  20. De Sio, L., Franklin, M. N., & Weber, T. (2016). The risks and opportunities of Europe: How issue yield explains (non-)reactions to the financial crisis. Electoral Studies, 44, 483–491.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. De Vries, C. E., Hakhverdian, A., & Lancee, B. (2013). The dynamics of voters’ left/right identification: The role of economic and cultural attitudes. Political Science Research and Methods, 1(2), 223–238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Deegan-Krause, K. (2007). New dimensions of political cleavage. In R. J. Dalton & H.-D. Klingemann (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Political Behavior (pp. 538–556). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Dinas, E. (2012). The formation of voting habits. Journal of Elections, Public Opinion & Parties, 22(4), 431–456.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Dinas, E. (2014). Does choice bring loyalty? Electoral participation and the development of party identification. American Journal of Political Science, 58(2), 449–465.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Downs, A. (1957). An economic theory of democracy. New York: Harper.Google Scholar
  26. Druckman, J. N., & Lupia, A. (2000). Preference formation. Annual Review of Political Science, 3, 1–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Duverger, M. (1954). Political parties. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  28. Enyedi, Z. (2008). The social and attitudinal basis of political parties: Cleavage politics revisited. European Review, 16(3), 287–304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Enyedi, Z. (2014). The discreet charm of political parties. Party Politics, 20(2), 194–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Erikson, R. S., & Wlezien, C. (2012). The timeline of presidential elections: How campaigns do (and do not) matter. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Evans, G., & De Graaf, N. D. (Eds.). (2013). Political choice matters: Explaining the strength of class and religious cleavages in cross-national perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Fiorina, M. P. (1992). Divided government. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  33. Franklin, M. N. (2004). Voter turnout and the dynamics of electoral competition in established democracies since 1945. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Franklin, M. N., & Hobolt, S. B. (2011). The legacy of lethargy: How elections to the European Parliament depress turnout. Electoral Studies, 30(1), 67–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Franklin, C. H., & Jackson, J. E. (1983). The dynamics of party identification. American Political Science Review, 77(4), 957–973.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Franklin, M. N., Mackie, T., & Valen, H. (Eds.). (1992). Electoral change. Responses to evolving social and attitudinal structures in Western Countries. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Fuchs, D., & Klingemann, H.-D. (1989). The left–right schema. In M. K. Jennings, J. W. van Deth, S. H. Barnes, D. Fuchs, F. J. Heunks, R. Inglehart, M. Kaase, H.-D. Klingemann, & J. Thomassen (Eds.), Continuities in political action (pp. 203–234). New York: de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  38. Gelman, A., & King, G. (1993). Why are American presidential election campaign polls so variable when votes are so predictable? British Journal of Political Science, 23(4), 409–451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Gerber, A. S., Green, D. P., & Shachar, R. (2003). Voting may be habit-forming: Evidence from a randomized field experiment. American Journal of Political Science, 47(3), 540–550.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Gomez, R. (2013). All that you can (not) leave behind: Habituation and vote loyalty in the Netherlands. Journal of Elections, Public Opinion & Parties, 23(2), 134–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Górecki, M. A. (2013). Electoral context, habit-formation and voter turnout: A new analysis. Electoral Studies, 32(1), 140–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Grotz, F. & Weber, T. 2016. Wahlsysteme und Sitzverteilung im Europäischen Parlament. [trans. Electoral systems and seat distribution in the European Parliament.] In H. Schoen & B. Weßels (Eds.) Wahlen und Wähler: Analysen aus Anlass der Bundestagswahl 2013 (pp. 493–515). Wiesbaden: Springer.Google Scholar
  43. Hirschman, A. O. (1970). Exit, voice, and loyalty. Responses to decline in firms, organizations, and states. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Hix, S., & Marsh, M. (2007). Punishment or protest? Understanding European Parliament elections. Journal of Politics, 69(2), 495–510.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Hobolt, S. B., Spoon, J.-J., & Tilley, J. (2009). A vote against Europe? Explaining defection at the 1999 and 2004 European parliament elections. British Journal of Political Science, 39(1), 93–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Honaker, J., King, G., & Blackwell, M. 2007. Amelia II: A program for missing data. Retrieved June 23, 2007, from http://gking.harvard.edu/amelia/.
  47. Jennings, M. K., & Markus, G. B. (1984). Partisan orientations over the long haul: Results from the three-wave political socialization panel study. The American Political Science Review, 78(4), 1000–1018.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Karp, J.A., & Hobolt, S.B., eds. 2010. Voters and Coalition Governments. Symposium of Electoral Studies 29(3), 299–391.Google Scholar
  49. Katz, R. S., & Mair, P. (1995). Changing models of party organization and party democracy: The emergence of the cartel party. Party Politics, 1(1), 5–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Kedar, O. (2009). Voting for policy, not parties: How voters compensate for power sharing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Kedar, O. (2012). Voter choice and parliamentary politics: An emerging research agenda. British Journal of Political Science, 42(3), 537–553.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Kirchheimer, O. (1966). The transformation of Western European party systems. In J. LaPalombara & M. Weiner (Eds.), Political parties and political development (pp. 177–200). Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  53. Kriesi, H., Grande, E., Lachat, R., Dolezal, M., Bornschier, S., & Frey, T. (2008). West European politics in the age of globalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. LeDuc, L. (1977). Political behaviour and the issue of majority government in two federal elections. Canadian Journal of Political Science, 10(2), 311–339.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Lijphart, A. (1994). Electoral systems and party systems. A study of twenty-seven democracies 1945–1990. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Lijphart, A. (2012). Patterns of democracy: Government forms and performance in thirty-six countries (2nd ed.). New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  57. Lipset, S.M., & Rokkan, S. 1967. Cleavage structures, party systems and voter alignments: An introduction. In Party systems and voter alignments: Cross-national perspectives, (pp. 1–64). New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  58. Mair, P. (1997). Party system change: Approaches and interpretations. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  59. Marsh, M. (2007). European Parliament elections and losses by governing parties. In W. van der Brug & C. van der Eijk (Eds.), European Elections and Domestic Politics (pp. 51–72). Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press.Google Scholar
  60. Marsh, M., & Mikhaylov, S. (2010). European Parliament elections and EU governance. Living Reviews in European Governance, 5(4), 1–30.Google Scholar
  61. Meredith, M. (2009). Persistence in political participation. Quarterly Journal of Political Science, 4(3), 187–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Milnor, A. J., & Franklin, M. N. (1973). Patterns of opposition behavior in modern legislatures. In A. Kornberg (Ed.), Legislatures in comparative perspective (pp. 421–446). New York: McKay.Google Scholar
  63. Mudde, C. (2014). Fighting the system? Populist radical right parties and party system change. Party Politics, 20(2), 217–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Mullainathan, S., & Washington, E. (2009). Sticking with your vote: Cognitive dissonance and political attitudes. Applied Economics, 1(1), 86–111.Google Scholar
  65. Oppenhuis, E., van der Eijk, C., & Franklin, M. (1996). The party context: Outcomes. In C. van der Eijk & M. N. Franklin (Eds.), Choosing Europe? (pp. 287–305). Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  66. Panebianco, A. (1988). Political parties: Organization and power. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  67. Parsons, C., & Weber, T. (2011). Cross-cutting issues and party strategy in the European Union. Comparative Political Studies, 44(4), 383–411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Pedersen, M. N. (1979). The dynamics of European party systems: Changing patterns of electoral volatility. European Journal of Political Research, 7(1), 1–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Plutzer, E. (2002). Becoming a habitual voter: Inertia, resources, and growth in young adulthood. American Political Science Review, 96(1), 41–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Rae, D. W. (1967). The political consequences of electoral laws. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  71. Reif, K. (1984). National electoral cycles and European elections 1979 and 1984. Electoral Studies, 3(3), 244–255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Reif, K., & Schmitt, H. (1980). Nine second-order national elections—A conceptual framework for the analysis of European election results. European Journal of Political Research, 8(1), 3–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Rokkan, S. (1970). Citizens, elections, parties: Approaches to the comparative study of the processes of development. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.Google Scholar
  74. Rossiter, C. (1956). The American presidency. New York: Harvest.Google Scholar
  75. Sartori, G. (1976). Parties and party systems: A framework for analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  76. Shachar, R. (2003). Party loyalty as habit formation. Journal of Applied Econometrics, 18(3), 251–269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Shamir, M. (1984). Are western party systems “frozen”? A comparative dynamic analysis. Comparative Political Studies, 17(1), 35–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Shepsle, K. A. (1979). Institutional arrangements and equilibrium in multidimensional voting models. American Journal of Political Science, 23(1), 27–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Simmel, G. (1908). Soziologie. Untersuchungen über die Formen der Vergesellschaftung. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot.Google Scholar
  80. Taagepera, R., & Shugart, M. S. (1989). Seats and votes: The effects and determinants of electoral systems. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  81. Toole, J. (2000). Government formation and party system stabilization in East Central Europe. Party Politics, 6(4), 441–461.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Tufte, E. R. (1975). Determinants of the outcomes of Congressional midterm elections. American Political Science Review, 69(3), 812–826.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. van der Brug, W., van der Eijk, C., & Franklin, M. N. (2007). The economy and the vote: Economic conditions and elections in fifteen countries. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. van der Eijk, C., & Franklin, M. N. (Eds.). (1996). Choosing Europe? The European electorate and national politics in the face of union. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  85. van der Eijk, C., Franklin, M. N., & Marsh, M. (1996a). What voters teach us about Europe-wide elections: What Europe-wide elections teach us about voters. Electoral Studies, 15(2), 149–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. van der Eijk, C., Franklin, M. N., & Oppenhuis, E. (1996b). The strategic context: Party choice. In C. van der Eijk & M. N. Franklin (Eds.), Choosing Europe? (pp. 332–365). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. van der Eijk, C., van der Brug, W., Kroh, M., & Franklin, M. N. (2006). Rethinking the dependent variable in voting behavior: On the measurement and analysis of electoral utilities. Electoral Studies, 25(3), 424–447.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Weber, T. (2007). Campaign effects and second-order cycles: A top-down approach to European Parliament elections. European Union Politics, 8(4), 509–536.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Weber, T. (2009). When the cat is away the mice will play: Why elections to the European Parliament are about Europe after all. Politique Européenne, 28, 53–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Weber, T. (2011). Exit, voice, and cyclicality: A micrologic of midterm effects in European Parliament elections. American Journal of Political Science, 55(4), 907–922.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political Science, Baruch CollegeCity University of New YorkNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceTrinity College ConnecticutHartfordUSA

Personalised recommendations