Jun 112012
 

Colleague Rainbow Murray is in Paris to do a little bit of observing. Her personal account of the count in one Parisian ward is quite intriguing. I had no idea that each candidate has to provides their own ballot paper. Not a very green thing, it would seem. Art Goldhammer puts Laurent Joffrin’s comment on Mélenchon’s failture/LePen’s success in perspective. ‘We all tend to overinterpret the results of elections’. Can’t argue with that. Meanwhile, Matt Goodwin ponders the question if Marine LePen’s ‘detoxified’ version of her father’s Front National is serving once more the blueprint for the (West) European Extreme Right, with Greece providing the counterpoint.And my own thoughts? Looking back, perhaps the most remarkable fact is how much our collective excitement has waned since the presidential election, although legislative elections really arereally important. Is this just because hundreds of multi-person races can simply not compete with the drama of the shoot-out between Sarkozy and Hollande, or just another piece of evidence of the internet’s detrimental effects on our attention spans? Continue reading »

May 112012
 

A mere 2.75 years after the fact, the Definitive Volume (TM) on the German Federal Election of 2009 is almost (almost!) ready to go to the printers’. And so is our chapter on East-West differences in German voting behaviour, which is vintage before it is even out (Pirate party, anyone?). Obviously, the details are becoming more and more blurry, so going through the proofs actually made for a pleasant read.

Political Science is the magpie amongst the social sciences, which borrows heavily from other disciplines. These days, many political scientists are actually failed economists (even more failed economists are actually economists, however). I used to think of myself as a failed sociologist, but reading the proofs it dawned on me that I might actually aspire to become a failed geographer.

Local deviations from regional voting patterns

On particular nice map that should have been discussed more thoroughly in the paper shows the local deviation from regional voting patterns. Yes, you read that right: I calculate an index (basically Pedersen’s) that summarises local (i.e. district level) deviations from the regional (East vs West) result and roll that into a choropleth.  This way, it is easy to see how heterogeneous the two regions really are. Most striking (in my view) is the difference between Bavaria and the other Western Länder, which is of course a result of the CSU’s still relatively strong position. The PDS/Left party’s stronghold over the eastern districts of Berlin is clearly visible, too.

Feb 182012
 
The reviewer thinks that “the piece is quite long for a research note on a regional election.” I’m afraid s/he is right, as it took me an unduly long time to complete it. But (and this is a very big but) the reviewer nonetheless recommends publication, and (even better the editor does not think that a reduction in size will be necessary.  Rejoice! So, just under one year after the fact, here is my analysis of the 2011 Land election in Rhineland-Palatinate

The 2011 election in Rhineland-Palatinate was a political earthquake: Following a string of political scandals, the SPD lost almost ten percentage points of their support, while the CDU could hardly improve on their disastrous 2006 result. The FDP is no longer represented in the state parliament. The Greens more than tripled their last result, allowing them to enter a coalition with the SPD for the first time.

Analyses at the municipal level show that the party improved most in their urban strongholds while still showing a (relatively) weak performance in rural areas. This will make it difficult to sustain the momentum of their victory. Moreover, the SPD is battered and bruised and needs to select a new leader, but veteran minister president Kurt Beck shows no inclination to step down. This does not bode well for a coalition that needs to organise the state’s fiscal consolidation and structural transformation.

 There is a PDF, too.

This manuscript as PDF

PDF version of this paper

 

 

 

Mar 022011
 

In the olden days, the world was simple. The average extreme right party was strictly socially conservative, to say the least. Abortion and homosexuality were considered sinful, mostly so because both practices deprived the fatherland of future soldiers and potential mothers of even more soldiers. So sex was supposed to be intramarital and had one purpose only: to procreate for the fatherland. Then came Pim Fortuyn and somewhat confused the message, but this was of little concern to members of the German NPD, who sometimes seem to live blissfully in a parallel universe where the 1930s never came to an end.

NPD: more miniskirts, fewer minarets

NPD campaign poster, 2011

Or so I thought until this morning. It’s election time in Rhineland-Palatinate, which means great fun, because campaigns at the state level often have their own disarming and rather amateurish charm. On my way to work, I drove past at least a dozen very conventional NPD posters showcasing the party’s “Müttergehalt” (salary for mothers) policy that is supposed to stop the “Volkstod” (genocide – they really hate foreign words). But then I nearly crashed my car laughing out loud when I spotted this little gem, campaigning, as you would have guessed, for “miniskirts instead of minarets”. Ah, the demand for more miniskirts – always at the fore of the minds of  every self-respecting, socially conservative nationalist movement. About time that someone dared to speak out.

 

The untrained, illiterate observer might of course mistakenly believe that the NPD is finally defending the unalienable right of the Aryan hooker to strut her stuff while eying a collection of strangely shaped dildos. As always, it is all in the eye of the beholder.

Jun 222009
 

Chatham House and the Institute of Iranian Studies at St. Andrews have published a preliminary analysis of the recent election in Iran. The paper (though it is based on official stats) suggests that the election was indeed rigged to a considerable degree. Here is the complete analysis of the Iranian Presidential Election 2009.

p.s. Just discovered that Ahmadinejad has his own blog. The world must surely be coming to an end. Then again, it has not been updated since 2007.

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May 312009
 

Next week, the European Parliament will celebrate its 7th direct election. However, this will be the culmination of 27 national campaigns. Here is a post on the lack of truly European content in the European I wrote for Andrea Römmele’s and Thorsten Faas’ “Wahlen nach Zahlen” blog (in German).

May 282009
 

With the upcoming EP elections, I felt obliged to check out the profiler sites my colleagues have put on the internet. I started with Germany’s wahl-o-mat that has been around for a number of years. After evaluating 30 statements, the program decided that I should vote for the German Liberals, which was not such a big surprise. The Bavarian Christian Democrats and the New Left Party were the biggest distance away from my ideal point, not least because my preferences seem to be more pro-European than these parties.

Why I should vote for the LibDems (maybe)

Why I should vote for the LibDems (maybe)

Given that I’m going to vote in the UK, I next tried the EU Profiler, which is an international project that aims at providing the relevant information on party positions for all 27 member states. After evaluating a new set of another 30 items, I was presented with a fancy two-dimensional graph that shows that I should vote for the UK LibDems, although they look more like my least-bad option since the policy space around my ideal point is not exactly crowded. This is because I am luke-warm (but warm) when it comes to European Integration plus a bit of a lefty when it comes to the “socioeconomic” dimension. This dimension, however, looks a bit dodgy, because according to the map, the Tories would be ever so slightly to the left of Labour. Well, maybe they are. At least no one suggest that I should vote UKIP or BNP (who sent me a flyer the other week, suggesting that all those immigrants should leave the UK).

In a bold move I switched from British to German parties and was a little surprised to learn that I should vote New Left, which is reasonably close to my ideal point while the Liberals are rather far away. So it would seem that I suffer from a national-political personality split.

Should I vote for the Left party?!?

Should I vote for the Left party?!?

Still not content with the results, I returned to the wahl-o-mat and discovered that they too have teamed-up with researchers from other countries, meaning that we have apparently two competing pan-European profiler projects. So I answered a final UK-specific questionnaire and was reassured that I should indeed vote for the LibDems, though apparently for different reasons.

While their accuracy of the results might be debatable, these tools provide a lot of information and are great fun.

Jul 122008
 

As a subdiscipline, the study of electoral behavior (or “psephology”) begins with a handful of monographs that were published in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. It’s amazing to see how concepts and ideas that were developed in Downs’ “Economic Theory of Democracy” or in the “American Voter” by Campbell et al. some 50 years ago inform our work to the present day. However, the study of electoral behaviour (or electoral behavior – the publisher keep changing the title just to confuse me) did obviously not end with these holy books. From the 1960s on, the discipline was increasingly defined by a number of ground breaking articles that were published in professional journals.

This collection gave us the opportunity to bring together 66 articles which – in our humble view – define the discipline, represent important new departures, or bring together the knowledge we have on a given subject. As a friend of mine wisely remarked, at $ 950 the collection might be slightly underpriced. Then again, if you teach a course on electoral behaviour or political sociology, or if just want to get an overview of electoral studies, getting much if not most of the important stuff in one four-volume-1640-pages book is really a bargain. Maybe you should invite your librarian for a coffee. Make it a large one.

What the Library of Electoral Behaviour gives you is a full introduction to the study of electoral behaviour plus:

Socio-Political Models

  1. Lipset, S. M. and S. Rokkan (eds.) (1967) [‘Introduction’] in Party Systems and Voter Alignments: Cross-National Perspectives, New York: The Free Press..

  2. Erikson, Robert, John H. Goldthorpe and Lucienne Portocarero (1979), ‘Intergenerational Class Mobility in Three Western European Societies. England, France and Sweden’, British Journal of Sociology 30: 415-441

  3. Alford, Robert R. (1962): A Suggested Index of the Association of Social Class and Voting, in: Public Opinion Quarterly 26, S. 417–425

  4. Lijphart, Arend: Religious vs. Linguistic vs. Class Voting: The “Crucial Experiment” of Comparing Belgium, Canada, South Africa, and Switzerland, The American Political Science Review, Vol. 73, No. 2. (Jun., 1979), pp. 442-458.

  5. Class Mobility and Political Preferences: Individual and Contextual Effects Nan Dirk De Graaf; Paul Nieuwbeerta; Anthony Heath The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 100, No. 4. (Jan., 1995), pp. 997-1027.

  6. The Developmental Theory of the Gender Gap: Women’s and Men’s Voting Behavior in Global Perspective Ronald Inglehart; Pippa Norris ‎. (Oct., 2000), pp. 441-463.

  7. Alan Zuckerman (1975) ‘Political Cleavage: a conceptual and theoretical analysis’, British Journal of Political Science, 5: 231-248.

  8. Key, V. O. “A Theory of Critical Elections.” The Journal of Politics 17, no. 1 (1955): 3-18

  9. Belknap, G., and A. Campbell. “Political Party Identification and Attitudes toward Foreign Policy.” The Public Opinion Quarterly 15, no. 4 (1951): 601-23.

  10. Converse, P. (1966) ‘The concept of a normal vote’ in A. Campbell et al (eds.) Elections and the Political Order, New York, John Wiley.

  11. Jennings, M.K. and R. Niemi (1968) ‘The transmission of political values from parent to child’, American Political Science Review, 62: 169-84.

  12. Converse, Philip E. (1964), ‘The Nature of Belief Systems in Mass Publics’, in: David E. Apter (ed). Ideology and Discontent, pp. 206-261, New York: Free Press

  13. Jackson, J. (1983). “The systematic beliefs of the mass public: estimating policy preferences with survey data” in Journal of Politics, vol. 45: 840-58.

  14. Markus, Gregory B., and Philip E. Converse. “A Dynamic Simultaneous Equation Model of Electoral Choice.” The American Political Science Review 73, no. 4 (1979): 1055-70.

  15. Fiorina, Morris P. “An Outline for a Model of Party Choice.” American Journal of Political Science 21, no. 3 (1977): 601-25.

  16. Bartels, Larry M. “Partisanship and Voting Behavior, 1952-1996.” American Journal of Political Science 44 (2000): 35-50.

Cognition and the Voter Calculus

  1. Hotelling, Harold (1929), ‘Stability in Competition’, The Economic Journal 39(153): 41-57.

  2. Riker, William H., and Peter C. Ordeshook. “A Theory of the Calculus of Voting.” American Political Science Review 62 (1968): 25-42.

  3. Continue reading »

May 042008
 

This is hilarious: Tony Zirkle (the chap behind the lectern) is obviously a man who knows how to sink his own campaign before it has even taken off. As part of his bid for a house seat in Indiana, he recently addressed a meeting of American Neo Nazis who were commemorating Hitler’s birthday (have you spotted the neat hand-made “happy birthday” garland in the foreground?). Respectful Insolence has the full story, complete with links to Zirkle’s homepage on which he blames the great porn dragon for the publicity fallout (I kid you not).

In a strange way, the whole scene looks a bit like the set of a slightly less than funny movie. If you grew up in the 1980s, you will get the impression that you have actually seen this film: remember the “I hate Illinois Nazis” moment from the original Blues Brothers movie?

Update: Zirkle was defeated soundly in the primary.