Acta Politica

, Volume 47, Issue 1, pp 18–41 | Cite as

Electoral volatility, political sophistication, trust and efficacy: A study on changes in voter preferences during the Belgian regional elections of 2009

  • Ruth Dassonneville
Original Article


In this article, we investigate voter volatility and analyse the causes and motives of switching vote intentions. We test two main sets of variables linked to volatility in literature; political sophistication and political disaffection. Results show that voters with low levels of political efficacy tend to switch more often, both within a campaign and between elections. In the analysis, we differentiate between campaign volatility and inter-election volatility, and by doing so show that the dynamics of a campaign have a profound impact on volatility. The campaign period is when the lowly sophisticated switch their vote intention. Those with higher levels of interest in politics have switched their intention before the campaign has started. The data for this analysis are from the three wave PartiRep Belgian Election Study (2009).


political sophistication political trust political efficacy campaign volatility inter-election volatility timing of vote decision 



I gratefully acknowledge the generous support provided by the Belgian Federal Science Agency to the ‘Partirep’ (Participation and Representation) project, as part of the Inter-University Attraction Pole programme ( I would also like to thank the anonymous reviewers of Acta Politica for their critical but very useful comments and insights.


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ruth Dassonneville
    • 1
  1. 1.Centrum voor Politicologie, Katholieke Universiteit LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

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