May 302018
 

Bonus track: Here is another demotivational  quote from the Stata handbook:

Apr 252018
 

Elections in Europe: great expectations.

Elections in Europe: a map of france

Source: Evans & Ivaldi, SCoRE project

2017 was a year of high-profile national elections in Europe, in which the Radical Right was expected to do particularly well. Balanced and neutral as ever, the Express claimed that the votes in France, Germany, and the Netherlands could DESTROY the EU. The Independent also flagged up the Dutch, German, and French elections, but added the Italian referendum, the Austrian presidential elections (both actually in 2016), and the British local elections, which, in hindsight, seems particularly quaint. Most observers missed the much more problematic Austrian parliamentary elections, and no one (arguably including the PM) expected Britain to go the polls, again.

SCoRE election data from four European countries

Elections in Europe: A map of UKIP losses in 2017

Source: Will Allchorn and Jocelyn Evans, SCoRE

For better or worse, the individual-level data collection for our project on sub-national context and radical right support in Europe (SCoRE) was scheduled for 2017 anyway. In SCoRE, we try to bring together particularly fine-grained official data on living conditions (including immigration, unemployment, local economic growth, and access to basic services) with survey data on right-wing attitudes and other attitudinal and behaviour variables that are geo-referenced. In other words: we can see how the way people think is linked to where they live, and what it is like there. And with the British PM’s decision to have a snap election, we became an election study on the side.

All politics is local: a close look at regional patterns of radical right voting in France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK

What sets SCoRE apart from other projects is its focus on regional and even local patterns of voting. To showcase this, my colleagues have produced a series of reports on the elections in Europe from this particular angle.

Will Allchorn and Jocelyn Evans (University of Leeds) study the switch from UKIP to the Conservatives in the 2017 election. One of their most interesting findings (I think) is that “the switchers are more strongly anti-European suggesting a tactical preference for a governing party able to deliver Brexit.

Eelco Harteveld and Sarah de Lange show that support for the Dutch Radical Right is not strongly correlated with a rural-urban divide. The PVV thrives in areas that are economically deprived and suffer from demographic stagnation, independent of urbanisation.

Elections in Europe: a map of PVV results in the Netherlands

Source: Harteveld & de Lange, SCoRE

Elections in Europe: a map of AfD results in Germany

Source: Berning, SCoRE

In Germany, the AfD is very much an eastern party. However, Carl Berning demonstrates that in the 2017 election, the
AfD did also well in the south-western states. A (perceived) sense of local decline seems to be a major factor.

Finally, a strong rural/urban divide sets in radical right voting is characteristic for France. Gilles Ivaldi and Jocelyn Evans show that support for the Front National was broken up into two distinct clusters, one in the northern rust belt, the other in the south.

Apr 192018
 

Mar 152018
 

Last Monday was Commonwealth Day, the date formerly known as Empire Day. I know this because I heard some claptrap on the BBC about 2.5 billion hearts beating as one. All eyes on London etc. Otherwise I would not have known.

Let me provide some context for this. At the moment, I live in downtown Toronto, a city that used to be one of the most staunchly British outposts in the former empire.

Canada only became fully independent from Britain in 1982, and the Queen remains the head of state to the present day. There is still a Governor General, who is supposed to represent her Maj on this side of the Atlantic. Because that’s not enough, there is even a Lieutenant Governor for Ontario, who performs what is known as viceroyal duties at the provincial level and has the St George’s Cross on her standard.

Her residence and other government buildings are just around the corner. I’m surrounded by real Victorian and mock Gothic architecture that tries very hard to look like Oxford or Cambridge against the backdrop of very North American high rises.

Yet there were no flags, no parades, no speeches, nothing on the news that would have suggested that this was some special day. Exactly no one on the streets looked particularly excited. By coincidence, I saw Justin Trudeau on the telly. He was not talking about the Commonwealth, but about Trump and tariff-free trading with the US.

For good measure, I asked my students – 65 budding Political scientists in their third year – whether they had noticed the coming and passing of Commonwealth Day. Two made vaguely affirmative noises.

In other news, I hear that Britain is still on its way out of the EU so that it may better trade with former colonies and new partners.

Just saying.

 Tagged with:
Jun 252016
 

So Britain has voted for Leave. The BBC is providing coverage 24/7. And the most amazing thing? To me,  it is the deafening silence from the Conservative leadership and the Leave campaign.
The country has just held what might be the most important vote in a generation or more. Britain is divided against itself in all sorts of ways. The rest of Europe is jumping up and down excitedly. Foreign ministers and PMs across the continent try to calm down the markets and their people.
Meanwhile in Britain, there is zilch political leadership. No one is outlining any sort of plan. Boris,  the man who has supposedly won the campaign, has not been seen or heard since Friday morning. Cameron is doing business as usual, inspecting the armed forces. The rest of them probably had plans for the weekend, as opposed to plans for carrying out Brexit. For the outsider, it looks once more like bloody amateur night in British politics – a night that might last all summer.

image

May 302016
 

Privately, I have referred to this piece as The Un-Dead Article, the Paper That Is Never Going Be Published, The Cursed Manuscript, or simply as It-Which-Must-Not-Be-Named. But you know, it’s the problem child we love the most. So: Our article “Political interest furthers partisanship in England, Scotland, and Wales” is finally out! If you don’t have a subscription (please check this first), here is an ungated link that works for a very limited number of visitors (please consider your fellow impoverished HE institution). And if everything fails, here is my pre-print version: Political Interest Furthers Partisanship in England, Scotland, and Wales.

United Kingdom Flag Map

The article argues, first, that the extant literature on party identification in the UK underestimates levels of identification, because it lumps together respondents from three different party systems (England, Scotland, and Wales). Second, we take the very useful model proposed by Clarke and his associates, who treat party identification as a latent class, and make a minor adjustment by adding political interest as an explanatory variable. As it turns out, political interest makes identification more likely. This is more in line with classic ideas about party identification than with “revisionist” critiques of the Michigan model, and with current models of political cognition. Moreover, it suggests that political interest renders affective ties more powerful in stabilizing themselves.

Dec 092015
 

A bit dated now, but still relevant: Showcasing our research at the Democratic Audit:
285467330_3b3c4ba936_voting

That voters prefer to elect local candidates is a long-held assumption of British politics. Professor Jocelyn Evans’ research has sought to test that assumption. He found that the geographical distance between candidates’ homes and the constituency had a measurable impact on voting behaviour. In this post he shares his findings and argues that voters should have access to more information about the ‘localness’ of those seeking to represent them …

Read the full post here: Where candidates live matters to voters, and they show it in their voting

Apr 012014
 
Lord Salisbury on the drawbacks of universal suffrage. Cited in David Marquand, Britain since 1918, p. 54

Lord Salisbury on the drawbacks of universal suffrage. Cited in David Marquand, Britain since 1918, p. 54

MP, Peer, Secretary of State for India, Foreign Secretary, Leader of the Opposition, thrice Prime Minister of Britain, architect of the Empire and arch-Conservative. Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, third Marquess of Salisbury and colloquially known as Lord Salisbury was not exactly a fan of mass democracy. This is from one of his essays in the Quarterly Review, quoted in David Marquand’s history of Britain in the 20th century. A lovely thing, these dead tree books.

Apr 022012
 

In first-past-the-post systems, voters should prefer local candidates for all sorts of reasons. From a rational choice perspective, you could argue that local candidates should, on average, more similar to their constituency in socio-economic terms and therefore more likely to represent their interests. A more socio-psychological-minded explanation would refer to shared ideological traits, positive stereotypes and collective identities. Or you could argue that local candidates are simply better known and have more opportunities for canvassing. Either way, even your granny knew that local is better when it comes to politics.

Only that she could never prove this assertion, while we can. Almost two years after the event, Political Geographyhas accepted our paper on the effect of (driving) distance between English mainstream candidates and their voters in the 2010 General Election. Controlling for incumbency, socio-economic distance and pre-campaign feeling towards the major parties, we demonstrate that physical distance (derived from candidates’ addresses and the centroid of their prospective voters’ neighbourhood) has a small but politically relevant effect. And yes, this is a brilliant start to this week!

Update: I have moved the preprint to a separate page. You can access the PDF, replication data etc. by clicking on the links below.

    Arzheimer, Kai and Jocelyn Evans. “Geolocation and voting: candidate-voter distance effects on party choice in the 2010 General Election in England.” Political Geography 31.5 (2012): 301–310. doi:10.1016/j.polgeo.2012.04.006
    [BibTeX] [Abstract] [Download PDF] [HTML] [DATA]

    The effect of geographical distance between candidate and voter on vote likelihood in the UK is essentially untested. In systems where constituency representatives vie for local inhabitants’ support in elections, candidates living closer to a voter would be expected to have a greater probability of receiving that individual’s support, other things being equal. In this paper, we present a first test of this concept using constituency data (specifically, notice of poll address data) from the British General Election of 2010 and the British Election Survey, together with geographical data from Ordnance Survey and Royal Mail, to test the hypothesis that candidate distance matters in voters’ choice of candidate. Using a conditional logit model, we find that the distance between voter and candidates from the three main parties (Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat) matters in English constituencies, even when controlling for strong predictors of vote-choice, such as party feeling and incumbency advantage.

    @Article{arzheimer-evans-2012,
    author = {Arzheimer, Kai and Evans, Jocelyn},
    title = {Geolocation and voting: candidate-voter distance effects on party choice in the 2010 General Election in England},
    number = {5},
    volume = {31},
    abstract = {The effect of geographical distance between candidate and voter on vote likelihood in the UK is essentially untested. In systems where constituency representatives vie for local inhabitants' support in elections, candidates living closer to a voter would be expected to have a greater probability of receiving that individual's support, other things being equal. In this paper, we present a first test of this concept using constituency data (specifically, notice of poll address data) from the British General Election of 2010 and the British Election Survey, together with geographical data from Ordnance Survey and Royal Mail, to test the hypothesis that candidate distance matters in voters' choice of candidate. Using a conditional logit model, we find that the distance between voter and candidates from the three main parties (Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat) matters in English constituencies, even when controlling for strong predictors of vote-choice, such as party feeling and incumbency advantage.},
    journal = {Political Geography},
    year = 2012,
    doi = {10.1016/j.polgeo.2012.04.006},
    pages = {301--310},
    keywords = {uk, gis},
    html = {http://www.kai-arzheimer.com/paper/geolocation-voting-candidate-voter-distance-effects-party-choice-2010-general-election-england},
    data = {http://hdl.handle.net/1902.1/17940},
    url = {http://www.kai-arzheimer.com/arzheimer-evans-geolocation-vote-england.pdf}
    }

Mar 122012
 

Colleagues/friends Matt Goodwin and Jocelyn Evans have created quite a stir with their report on the attitudes of BNP and UKIP supporters/voters. Obviously, UKIP is not happy at all about being lumped together with what remains of Nick Griffin’s party. Being introduced as a ‘polite alternative’ to the BNP (albeit with a rhetorical question mark) does not help, either. Today, Matt responds to their critics over at the Guardian’s ever more popular Comment is free section.

Whether UKIP likes it or not, this is fascinating stuff (for us aficionados). That their respondents predominantly young, male, undereducated and deeply worried about Muslims/immigrants hardly comes as a surprise. But there are some real innovations in this paper.

  • First, the N is huge (you need yougov or a very solid skull to interview ~2000 right-wingers). The sheer number of interviews makes it possible to differentiate between members, identifiers, supporters, and voters, something that is not normally possible.
  • Second, comparing BNP and UKIP supporters on the basis of a large sample makes a lot of substantive sense, whether UKIP likes it or not.
  • Third, Goodwin/Evans cleverly included items tapping into attitudes towards politically motivated violence in their survey. This allows them to connect existing research on voters with the sparse literature on militant activists.