ESRA 2019 Programme at a Glance


Public opinion and electoral politics in an era of political discontent 4

Session Organisers Dr Roula Nezi (GESIS-Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences)
Dr Theofanis Exadaktylos (University of Surrey)
TimeFriday 19th July, 13:30 - 14:30
Room D26

Over the past nine years the European Union has faced a series of social and political challenges that affected citizens’ political behaviour, political attitudes, and party systems. The European Union in particular, but also non-EU member states, confronted a series of events such as the economic crisis and the refugee crisis, which, coupled with the prominence of austerity politics, have given rise to unpredicted political and electoral outcomes such as the rise of populist parties - both from the right and the left of the ideological spectrum - the rise of authoritarian politics, the rise of political forces questioning the future of European integration as well as the overhaul of traditional parties.

These phenomena give rise to important questions for scholars working in the area of public opinion and elections. Can the existing theories of electoral choice explain the surprising electoral outcomes witnessed in many countries?  What is the role of emotions in political behaviour? Are the recent electoral shocks a result of a crisis of confidence and trust facing mainstream political parties and the rising disconnect of citizens? Is the growing support for populist parties rooted in austerity politics or is based on changes in peoples’ values and emotions?

This panel welcomes papers on a wide range of topics related to public opinion, elections, voting behaviour, and election forecasting such as:

voter turn out
political participation and pathways to engagement 
vote for populist parties
authoritarian attitudes and values
emotions and appraisals

We welcome papers using single case studies but we especially encourage comparative/longitudinal studies. Proposals should encourage the conference’s main theme “survey research in the changing data environment”. We also welcome papers that propose new theoretical approaches in the study of public opinion and elections and are empirically or methodologically innovative.



Keywords: public opinion, electoral politics, political participation, values, survey research

Explaining Individual Differences in the Costs of Voting

Dr Andrés Santana (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid) - Presenting Author
Professor Susana Aguilar (Universidad Complutense de Madrid)

A more profound analysis of the variables in the calculus of voting equation is needed to improve our knowledge on electoral behaviour. We endogenize the costs of voting (C), drawing the empirical evidence from the MEDW (Making Electoral Democracy Work) database, which contains information on C and its potential determinants for the national elections of France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, and Canada. We test whether C is affected by factors related to informational costs, the costs of the act of voting, and the ex-ante rationalization of C. All three groups of factors have a statistical and substantive effect. C falls with party identification, education, union membership, years living in the region, interest in politics and the importance attributed to elections, while it is higher for women and for those living in rural areas. Age shows a curvilinear relationship, initially reducing C and then increasing it.