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Between first and second order: A comparison of voting behaviour in European and local elections in Britain

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European Journal of Political Research

Abstract

In Britain, both local elections and European elections can be regarded as second-order. However, voters believe that even less is at stake in European elections than in local elections, and their behaviour is congruent with this: voters are more likely to turn out in local elections, they are more likely to ‘split their ticket’ they are more likely to report that they vote on issues specific to the second-order arena. Logistic regression of party choices in the local, European and national contexts confirms this. National considerations played less part in the local election and there was some evidence that voters were influenced by the record of the locally-incumbent party. It appears that voting in the European elections has more of an expressive character, and is less instrumental than that in either local or national elections.

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Heath, A., McLEAN, I., Taylor, B. et al. Between first and second order: A comparison of voting behaviour in European and local elections in Britain. European Journal of Political Research 35, 389–414 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1006924510899

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