ESRA 2017 Programme

Tuesday 18th July      Wednesday 19th July      Thursday 20th July      Friday 21th July     

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Friday 21st July, 11:00 - 12:30 Room: F2 105

Measuring the change (or the lack of) of political attitudes 2

Chair Dr Roula Nezi (GESIS-Leibniz-Institute for the Social Sciences )
Coordinator 1Dr Theofanis Exadaktylos (University of Surrey)

Session Details

Since the onset of the financial crisis in Europe in 2008 a series of tumultuous events have unfolded across Europe. The European Union is confronted with a series of social and political challenges that affect European citizens across all member states, such as the rise of austerity as a result of the economic crisis, the migration influx from inside and outside the European Union, terrorism and security threats, as well as the rise of new political forces questioning the future of European Integration. This chain of events has not only challenged the political elites of the European Union and its member states but it has also affected citizens' political attitudes.

The purpose of this panel is the understanding of the stability or change of citizens' behaviour as an essential element in political science and comparative politics, especially within the context of turbulence in Europe. The panel incorporates ideas linked to the wider topics of the rise of populism, the questioning of established democratic values, norms and institutions by European citizens, and the rise of support for extreme and radical voices within mainstream politics.

This panel accepts papers that use survey based research including survey experiments and experimental designs to gauge short or long term changes of political attitudes, including but not limited to:

- Attitudes towards democracy
- Political preferences including party choice
- Perceptions of authoritarian personalities, and
- Support for populist or anti-systemic parties and political formations.

The focus of the panel is not the case(s) selected but rather the application of the method and its connection to rigorous empirical analysis.

Paper Details

1. The transformation of political preference structures
Mr Jakob Horneber (University Bonn)

Political cleavages are originally understood as a permanent manifestation of previous societal conflicts (Lipset & Rokkan 1967). In recent years research demonstrated that cleavages can be indeed stable, but they are not necessarily “frozen”. Societal and political circumstances might lead to a transformation or even disappearance of existing cleavages and the appearance of new conflict dimensions. In the long term this would affect the party system as well. It can be assumed that such tendencies are promoted by political, social and economic crises. Given the omnipresence and importance of the correspondent challenges consequences are to be expected not only for the voters’ opinion on certain issues but as well for the political structure itself.

In the context of Europe’s crisis, this presentation wants to assess transformations of the political landscape in different European countries. Rather than focusing on singular political attitudes, a relational perspective that takes structural changes in political preferences into account is applied. I assess changes in political preferences by analyzing Eurobarometer data on the most important political issues mentioned by respondents. By applying multivariate scaling methods, a multidimensional space is constructed which allows for the analysis of proximity and opposition of political issues. This representation can be interpreted as structure of political conflicts. Exploratory analyses for categorical data (such as correspondence analysis) are used. Thereby, it is possible to include oppositional items as well as ideologically indefinite valence issues which enables a comprehensive analysis of the predominant political antagonisms.

Yearly cross-sectional data from 2005-2014 are used. In a combined analysis, short-term tendencies and (potential) long-term transformations can be shown. The analysis of different countries allows for a comparative perspective. For instance, in Germany economic issues have gained in relative importance massively after the financial crisis but only for one year (2009). After that, the level of 2008 was reached again and European issues gained importance. In other European countries, the economic influence remained.

2. A Dynamic Forecasting Model for the 2017 German Federal Election
Dr Simon Munzert (University of Mannheim, Mannheim Centre for European Social Research)
Professor Thomas Gschwend (University of Mannheim)
Dr Lukas Stoetzer (University of Zurich)
Mr Steffen Zittlau (University of Mannheim)
Mr Marcel Neunhoeffer (University of Mannheim)
Mr Sebastian Sternberg (University of Mannheim)

We present efforts to develop a dynamic forecast of the German Federal Election 2017. In contrast to the predominant academic approach to forecast incumbent vote shares from measures of government popularity, economic conditions and other fundamental variables, we combine data from published trial heat polls with structural information. Opposite to common practice in the news media, we do not take isolated polls as election forecasts in their own right, but exploit historical data to assess empirically the relationship between polls and election outcomes. Furthermore, the model takes care of the correlated evolution of party support over time and the multi-party nature of the setting. The value of our approach goes beyond the interest of the public and the media: Being able to dynamically track public opinion over the course of an election campaign can help understand how political events affect citizens' voting preferences.

3. Studying Trump-like voters in Mexico
Dr Rene Bautista (NORC at the University of Chicago)
Dr Marco Morales (ITAM)
Mr Javier Marquez (Buendia & Laredo)
Mr Jose Merino (Data4)

The recent election of Donald Trump underscored the impact that a coalition of voters that may rally to support a platform based on fear, discrimination, and xenophobia may have. This may also be particularly true for candidates portraying themselves as outsiders to the prevailing political elites in a country. Trump is not an isolated case as many candidates with similar platforms have been recently elected in Europe and Asia, which may preface many more to come. Our concern is with starting to isolate characteristics that voters who support these platforms share cross-nationally. We start exploring this issue with a nationally representative survey collected in Mexico right after the election of Donald Trump. With this data set, we seek to isolate a potential latent dimension that may identify potential supporters of these issues in Mexico, and scope out the characteristics of these voters. This becomes particularly relevant as a presidential election will take place in 2018, where the temptation to bring platforms with these issues may be big for external candidates.