This paper examines the context, campaign and main determinants of how Catalans voted in the 2015 regional election. The elections were exceptional because the incumbent and the remaining Catalan nationalist parties framed the contest as a de facto referendum on secession. In this paper we scrutinise whether attitudes towards independence affected vote choice and whether they eclipsed other traditional significant vote-driving factors such as the state of the economy or government performance. Results show that, although the independence issue became a major determinant of vote choice, the elections did not become a pure plebiscite on secession, since voters also used their vote to hold the regional government accountable for its past performance.
Although federal arrangements adopt a multiplicity of forms across and within federations, this article suggests that some models of power division are better than others at enhancing clarity of responsibility and electoral accountability. This conclusion is the result of exploring responsibility attribution and economic voting in a state where decentralisation arrangements vary across regions: the Spanish State of Autonomies. Using electoral surveys and aggregated economic data for the 1982–2012 period, the empirical analysis shows that regional economic voting is most pronounced in regions where decentralisation design concentrated authority and resources at one level of government, whereas it is inexistent in regions where devolution followed a more intertwined model of power distribution. The implication of the empirical findings is that the specific design of intergovernmental arrangements is crucial to make electoral accountability work in federations.
The 2015 general election marked the end of the two-party system that had existed in Spain since the restoration of democracy. Two new parties, ‘Podemos’ and ‘Ciudadanos’, entered the national arena for the first time and together obtained 34.6 per cent of the vote. This paper describes this election’s context and electoral results by analysing the individual determinants behind the change to the Spanish party system. The results indicate that economic factors predominantly explain the votes for the traditional parties, the PP and PSOE. On the other hand, political factors help distinguish why some voters remained ‘loyal’ to the traditional parties and others switched to the new formations. While Podemos switchers were mainly politically disaffected left-wing voters, electoral support for Ciudadanos came from younger and ideologically moderate voters who had lower levels of political trust.
A substantive portion of the electorate declares in pre-electoral surveys that they are undecided. However, little has been done in trying to understand who these voters are and how they finally decide their vote. In this article, we try to advance the literature by disentangling the circumstances under which voters are more likely to be undecided. While the traditional approach to the study of electoral indecision has been to characterize which individual traits make voters more likely to be undecided, this article provides consistent evidence showing that key elements of the political context may also affect electoral indecision. Using long-term harmonized data from Spanish pre-electoral surveys over 30 years, we find that voting indecision is influenced by two different types of contextual factors. First, there are some political contexts that reduce voters’ cognitive costs when deciding their vote, i.e. the level of electoral competitiveness and the number of parties competing in the elections. Second, there are other political contexts that increase voters’ social or expressive costs, i.e. the level of government popularity, since costs of expressing preference for the party in government increases when its public image is undermined.
This article analyses the influence of ballot structure over satisfaction with democracy. In line with previous literature, we hypothesize that some ballot structures – such as preferential ballots – generate more satisfaction with democracy than closed ones. Yet, we expect these differences to be especially relevant among the more knowledgeable electorate, since any open ballot structure requires more sophisticated voters. Using CSES surveys, our results do not show a clear and simple relation between ballot openness and satisfaction with democracy as some previous research seems to suggest. Our findings rather suggest a more limited effect. Preferential ballots and open lists are the only ballot structures that generate more satisfaction, when compared to most of the remaining ballot structures. Yet, this relation is restricted only among the more knowledgeable electorate. The liberty of choice that ballot structure offers only concerns a reduced portion of the electorate, namely the more politically sophisticated one.
Cataluña en la encrucijada es un libro que recopila once análisis de las elecciones catalanas, cada uno realizado desde un ángulo distinto por expertos en ciencia política. La participación, el voto, los pactos postelectorales… el lector encontrará algunas de las claves de las últimas elecciones y, en especial, adquirirá elementos necesarios para entender mejor la Cataluña de hoy, la de ayer y, posiblemente, la de mañana.
Celebradas en el contexto de una extraordinaria recesión económica y el creciente descontento de los ciudadanos con las instituciones políticas, las elecciones generales de 2011 constituyen una prueba crítica del estado de salud de la democracia en España. Los especialistas reunidos en este volumen, reconocidos investigadores de prestigiosos centros españoles y extranjeros, desgranan los aspectos más destacados de la contienda a partir de análisis empíricos sofisticados, pero presentados en un lenguaje ameno y accesible al lector no especializado. A lo largo de nueve capítulos, el libro aborda la trayectoria del segundo gobierno de José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero y el periplo del Partido Popular en la oposición; describe el deterioro de la opinión pública durante la legislatura; examina el origen y las razones de los cambios de voto que dieron la mayoría absoluta al PP y llevaron a los socialistas a sus perores resultados desde 1977; analiza la influencia de la campaña y los debates electorales, el impacto de la crisis económica y las políticas de austeridad, así como las posibles secuelas de la irrupción del movimiento 15M; evalúa los efectos del sistema electoral, a la luz de las alternativas propuestas en los últimos años; e interpreta los resultados de los comicios desde una perspectiva comparada. Una obra de referencia fundamental para los expertos, periodistas y toda aquella persona interesada en comprender los resultados de una elección en un momento trascendental.
In this article, we examine which political issues are considered most important by the Spanish electorate. Although a variety of potentially relevant issues are available, voters are forced to summarise them in just one vote. Thus, they need to prioritise some issues over others. This article analyses which issues end up being the most important for the Spanish electorate when they decide their vote, and why some issues become more influential than others. Our hypothesis is that voters give more weight to issues that polarise the parties. The hypothesis is tested at the individual and at the aggregate level.
Aquest llibre pretén ser un text introductori a la Ciència Política pensat per a persones que no en tinguin cap coneixement acadèmic previ. És probable que siguin estudiants de primer curs d’algun grau en Ciències Socials, però també pot resultar un text adequat per a polítics amateurs o a temps complet, periodistes en exercici, o ciutadans que vulguin comprendre la política de manera més rigorosa que alguns tertulians radiofònics. Els autors han evitat deliberadament els debats excessivament intel·lectuals i s’han concentrat a transmetre els coneixements politològics concrets que hauria de dominar qualsevol persona que hagi estudiat una mica de Ciència Política seriosa. Si vol saber ?de veritat? com influeix la conjuntura econòmica en les eleccions, com se soluciona un dilema del presoner, què és una república semipresidencial, com es calcula la fórmula electoral de les restes més elevades, o què diferencia una democràcia d’una dictadura, aquest és el seu llibre.
Most models in political science and political economy assume that benefiting from public spending increases the likelihood of voting for the government. However, we do not have much empirical evidence on the conditions under which recipients of public spending reward governments for their public transfers. This article studies the electoral implications of welfare spending cuts in the early years of the Reagan Presidency, when public spending changes were particularly pronounced. Using 1982 NES data, this paper demonstrates that voters who lost public benefits punished Reagan but this only occurred when they identified with the Democratic Party. By contrast, benefit recipients not affected by government cuts were more likely to support Reagan, but again this was only significant among voters identifying with the party of government. This paper thus finds that governments cannot automatically “buy” votes by using welfare spending, the influence of which is instead cushioned by party identification.
According to the literature, governments have strong incentives to use the public budget tactically in order to either obtain the electoral support of new voters or strengthen the loyalty of their traditional supporters. Yet vote-seeking strategies only become rational when voters follow their self-interest and reward governments when their constituency benefits from public transfers. The literature has focused on the governments’ incentives, largely ignoring the importance of knowing whether the electorate is responsive to public investments. This study tests empirically whether incumbents strategically use public investments to gather more electoral support; and whether voters take these investments into account at the polls. These two questions are pursued simultaneously by using as a case study the expansion of the underground network in Madrid, Spain. Only a little evidence is found to support the idea that regional governments constructed new metro stations in neighbourhoods where they had more to gain electorally. Also, the inauguration timing strictly followed the electoral cycle, something that indicates a strategic calculus on the part of the incumbent. However, the models are also consistent with the idea that the government’s investments were primarily driven by motives of efficiency. Indeed, although governments are tempted to follow vote-seeking strategies, they are also aware that they cannot deviate too much from an efficiency-based allocation of public resources. From the perspective of the voters, robust evidence has been found to show that regional voters rewarded this policy at the neighbourhood level. Neighbourhoods that received new metro stations voted in higher numbers for the incumbent than those quarters without new investments. All in all, these findings may have some implications for normative democratic theory.
Although non-ideological voters make up a considerable share of the electorate, the literature has systematically overlooked their voting behaviour. Using Spanish electoral data from the 1979-2008 electoral period, we seek to identify the alternative cues ?in the absence of ideology? these voters may use when casting their ballot. We do not find that evaluations of the incumbent?s performance have a greater influence on non-ideological voters, as the retrospective voting literature suggests. Nor do we find that other shortcuts such as candidate evaluations or party identification are used more by this group when they vote. Instead, our results indicate that non-ideological voters have exchanged the traditional ideological shortcut for simple proincumbent voting as a decision rule.
Este artículo estudia, por un lado, en qué medida se dieron cálculos con fines electorales en el proyecto de ampliación del Metro en Madrid entre 1995 y 2007 y por otro, analiza si los gobiernos regionales del PP obtuvieron réditos electorales de las inversiones realizadas. Respecto a lo primero, los resultados no indican que hubiera criterios electoralistas en la asignación de nuevas estaciones de metro. No hay evidencia de que el gobierno usara la ampliación del metro como un premio a los barrios más fieles al PP ni como un estímulo para “comprar” el voto de los barrios con mayor volumen de independientes. En cuanto a lo segundo, los gobiernos de la región y, muy especialmente el primer gobierno de Esperanza Aguirre, fueron capaces de rentabilizar en votos las inversiones en el Metro. El crecimiento del PP en la capital fue mayor en los barrios donde se construyeron nuevas estaciones de metro. Por consiguiente, de los resultados de este estudio se desprende que la política del metro en Madrid se ha caracterizado por una asignación no-electoralista de los recursos premiada exitosamente en las urnas por los ciudadanos de Madrid.