Nov 242019
 
California vs Russia, Ukrainian bribery, Mr P comes to Little Britain, false flag attack in Germany, and the fire-hose of anti-vaxx lies: 5 links I liked 1
Over at Crooked Timber, John Quiggin asks an odd yet interesting question: Would Republican voters rather live under a government like that of Russia, or one like that of California?

Barbara McQuade, an actual law professor and former US attorney, argues that what the testimonies from the impeachment hearings add up to bribery.

Still not sure if I really get how it works (there is always the original Gelman piece), but here is a useful primer to “Mr P” and its application to the upcoming General election in the UK

In Germany, a soldier who planned a (false flag) far-right terror attack is to stand trial. Just as scary as his plan is that the magistrate court wanted to dismiss his case. Thankfully, the federal prosecutor appealed to the high court, which ordered their colleagues further down the food chain to begin proceedings. This is very scary, and woefully under-reported.

Why do some political actors spout obvious lies? There is a Rand paper on Russian propaganda which claims that this is a deliberate strategy. And this article in the Guardian applies the idea to anti-vaxxers. Fun fact/bonus track: this is what I see in position 0 (i.e. before any hits) when I type “he spouts lies” into Google.

Trump spouts lies

Oct 272019
 
5 quick hits on the state election in Thuringia 2

LEFT30.4%
AfD23.5%
CDU22.1%
SPD8.1%
GREENS5.1%
FDP5.1%

Source: FGW projection, 8:10pm

Why waste my life writing lengthy books that no-one is going to read? Why go through the pain of peer review? Why, in fact, wait for the actual election results to come in? So here is my list on hot takes on the Thuringia state election.

  1. Everyone is talking about the AfD, but the real story of this election is the Left. Bodo Ramelow was the first member of the Left to become Minister President of a federal state. His red-red-green coalition was defeated, but only because his partners lost electoral support. The Left’s vote share actually increased a bit so that for the first time since 1990, the Left has become the strongest party in a Land election. Ramelow himself is even more popular than his party and may be able to continue, either as a caretaker/minority Minister President or at the helm of some new (and very complicated) coalition.
  2. Single-digit SPD results are almost normal now. The SPD has always struggled in Thuringia. Now, the SPD has once more dipped into single-digit territory (after Bavaria and Saxony). A few years ago, that would have been unthinkable. Now, it’s not really a huge surprise.
  3. Germany is not yet the Netherlands, but we are getting there. Journalists and pundits still talk about the “Volksparteien” – the CDU/CSU-SPD duopoly – as if this were the normal state of affairs in Germany. But it seems unlikely that were are going back to a two-dominant-and-some-minor-parties arrangement any time soon. If the FDP makes it past the electoral threshold, there will be six parties in the new state parliament. Just like in the Bundestag, the Bavarian state parliament, and the Landtag in Brandenburg, to name a few. For the time being, fragmentation and volatility are the new normal.
  4. The Green Wave has not reached Thuringia. Nationwide, the Greens are still the second party and poll between 20 and 25 per cent. They have made some inroads in the eastern states, where they have struggled for most of the last three decades. Opinion polls looked moderately good for them, but in reality, they came dangerously close to the threshold. In fact, it is still not clear whether they will make into parliament. This does not mean that the wave has ended today. Thuringia is a small state that is in no way representative and was always a difficult arena for them (think lots of wood and history, few universities/cities).
  5. The most extreme flavour of the AfD remains popular in the (south-)east. It’s not a secret that the AfD is much stronger in the eastern states than they are in the west. Currently, a result in the 20s seems to be normal in the southern part of the former GDR, with some pockets were they go even beyond 30 per cent. The result in Thuringia is well within that range. The interesting point is that the AfD in Thuringia is led by a man who pushes the envelope of being a right-wing populist, a man whose rhetoric, policies and associates are more in line with traditional German right-wing extremism. Höcke has voiced support for rank-and-file members of the NPD when the AfD was still a polite bunch of Eurosceptics. He has spread racist tropes about Africans, has marched with Neo-Nazis and campaigned for a U-turn in Germany’s approach to its traumatic past. He infamously called the Holocaust memorial in Berlin a “monument of shame in the heart of our capital”. And yet, only days after a Christchurch-style attack on a synagogue, Höcke’s AfD won about a quarter of the vote. Some may have cast their vote in spite of him (he was not exactly popular in pre-election surveys), but at least fraction must have known what they were doing. Which is a very scary notion.

Sep 072018
 
Sweden: (some) thoughts and (no) prayers 3
The other day, an American journalist wanted to talk about the Sweden Democrat’s role in the upcoming Swedish election. Being no country specialist, I tried to deflect the request, but he sent me some more specific questions anyway, which I tried to answer to the best of my abilities.

Unsurprisingly, I provided too much detail, so my comments disappeared from the published piece. Since it is Friday afternoon and all the stuff is on file anyway, for your edification, here’s our virtual conversation:

Would you characterize the Sweden Democrats as a radical right party? How similar are they to other radical right parties in Europe? What is different about them?

Yes, I the Sweden Democrats fit well into the family of Radical Right parties that have emerged in most West European countries since the 1980s. The most unusual thing about the SD is perhaps that they started out as a pretty militant group, with uniforms reminiscent of the 1930s. Many modern European Radical Right parties have carefully avoided this association from the start.

It seems to me that the Sweden Democrats have done a lot of “soften” their image, with their flowery logo and the party leader’s choice of clothes. Is this something you would agree with? Is this something other radical right parties have adopted?

That’s correct. The new-ish leadership has banned the uniforms, purged the ranks of Neo Nazis, and replaced the fierce Viking warrior of their original logo with a flower. Their relatively moderate appeal is very much in line with other Radical Right parties.

How important is this election in Sweden in determining the future of the European Union?

For the time being, no other party will form a coalition with the SD, so their likely success will have no direct short-term impact on the EU. However, having a strong Radical Right party in the Swedish parliament will make it more difficult to form a stable government and will likely lead to Swedish mainstream parties adopting more nationalist and restrictive positions.

Do you think the Sweden Democrats are further evidence of a rising tide of nationalism across Europe? What is behind this rise? Immigration? Neo-liberal economic policies? Economic hardships? Changes in society?

Radical Right Parties that poll between 10 and 25 per cent are now a fact of political life in most West European countries, and in all likelihood, these parties will also do well in the 2019 EP elections, where the barriers to entry are particularly low. One important but often overlooked factor behind this rise is dealignment, i.e. the slow but steady decline of the long standing ties between large social groups such as workers, farmers, or religious groups on the one hand and traditional parties on the other. Through dealignment, voters have become available for new parties including, but not limited to, the Radical Right.

One second important point to note is that the Radical Right vote is driven by perceptions of migration as an economic and cultural threat. While these perceptions are by no means confined to the Radical Right’s electorate, they seem to constitute a necessary pre-condition for Radical Right support: unless someone is seriously worried about immigration, it is highly unlikely that they would ever vote for the Radical Right. Third, economic decline plays a role, but many Radical Right voters are relatively well of themselves. What worries them is a feeling that their native compatriots get less than they deserve, that the country is going into a negative direction because of immigration, and the (often irrational) fear that immigration might hurt their own economic prospects in the future. It is also worth noting that the Radical Right is particularly strong in the rich and stable countries of Scandinavia and in Austria and Switzerland, whereas it is surprisingly weak in crisis-hit Greece and nonexistent in Spain and Portugal.

Here’s a question unrelated to Sweden … How significant of a role do you think Steve Bannon can play in Europe?

Bannon plays no role whatsoever. Populist Radical Right Parties have thrived in Europe since the 1980s. International co-operation amongst them has proven difficult time and again because of their inherently nationalist agendas, but they were quite good at learning from each other and swapping ideas long before Bannon began his European tour. In my view, Bannon hugely overplays his influence in Europe, and American media sometimes fall for his spiel.

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.

Jan 312017
 
After three years or so, there is a publication date for our Handbook of Electoral Behaviour: it will be out in mid-March (2017) and could be yours for a mere 240 quid (hey, that’s a ten per cent pre-publication discount!). Delectable as it is, it is somewhat unlikely that you would want to buy this tome for your private collection, but you might want to recommend it to your library. Speaking of delectable things, here is what is in the box:The all new, all singing, all dancing Handbook of Electoral Behaviour 4

Introduction (Kai Arzheimer, Jocelyn Evans and Michael S. Lewis-Beck)

PART I  INSTITUTIONAL APPROACHES

Institutions and Voter Choice: Who Chooses, What Do They Choose Over, and How Do They Choose (Shaun Bowler)

Party Systems and Voter Alignments (Åsa von Schoultz (née Bengtsson))

The Study of Less Important Elections (Hermann Schmitt and Eftichia Teperoglou)

Clarity of Responsibility and Vote Choice (Thiago Silva and Guy D. Whitten)

Voting in New(er) Democracies (Lenka Bustikova and Elizabeth Zechmeister)

PART II  SOCIOLOGICAL APPROACHES

Age and Voting (Ruth Dassonneville)

Gender and Voting (Rosie Campbell)

Social Class and Voting (Geoffrey Evans)

Religion (Martin Elff and Sigrid Roßteutscher)

Race, Ethnicity and Elections: From Recognizable Patterns to Generalized Theories (Maria Sobolewska)

Social Networks and Voter Mobilization (Marc Hooghe)

PART III  PARTISANSHIP

The Evolving Role of Partisanship (Elias Dinas)

Party Identification: Meaning and Measurement (Donald P. Green and Susanne Baltes)

Cognitive Mobilization (Todd Donovan)

PART IV  VOTER DECISION-MAKING

Strategic Voting (Thomas Gschwend and Michael F. Meffert)

Integrating Genetics into the Study of Electoral Behavior (Carisa L. Bergner and Peter K. Hatemi)

Emotions and Voting (David P. Redlawsk and Douglas R. Pierce)

Referendums (Alan Renwick)

Turnout (Hanna Wass and André Blais)

PART V  ISSUES AND ATTITUDES

Ideology and Core Values (Robert N. Lupton, Adam M. Enders, and William G. Jacoby)

Issue Ownership: An Ambiguous Concept (Wouter van der Brug)

Valence (Jane Green and Will Jennings)

Value Cleavages (Romain Lachat)

The Economic Vote: Ordinary vs.Extraordinary Times (Michael S. Lewis-Beck and Marina Costa Lobo)

The VP-Function: A Review (Mary Stegmaier, Michael S. Lewis-Beck and Beomseob Park)

PART VI  CANDIDATES AND CAMPAIGNS

Voter Evaluation of Candidates and Party Leaders (Diego Garzia)

Candidate Location and Vote Choice (Jocelyn Evans)

The Personal Vote (Thomas Zittel)

Candidate Attractiveness (Markus Klein and Ulrich Rosar)

Campaign Effects (Richard Johnston)

Economic Voting in a New Media Environment:Preliminary Evidence and Implications (Diana C. Mutz and Eunji Kim)

Campaign Spending (Zachary Albert and Raymond La Raja)

PART VII  POLLING AND FORECASTING

Polls and Votes (Robert Ford, Christopher Wlezien, Mark Pickup and Will Jennings)

Econometric Approaches to Forecasting (Éric Bélanger and David Trotter)

Wisdom of Crowds (Andreas Murr)

Political Markets (Andreas Graefe)

Social Media and Elections: A Meta-analysis of Online-based Electoral Forecasts (Andrea Ceron, Luigi Curini and Stefano M. Iacus)

PART VIII  Candidates and Campaigns

Experiments (Robert Johns)

Multi-level Modelling of Voting Behaviour (Marcel Lubbers and Take Sipma)

Cross-national Data Sources: Opportunities and Challenges (Catherine de Vries)

Psephology and Technology, or: The Rise and Rise of the Script-Kiddie (Kai Arzheimer)

Conclusion (Marianne Stewart)

If you are still reading, you will have noticed that we got away with not having devoted a chapter (exclusively) to Rational Choice