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Multidimensional incongruence and vote switching in Europe

Journal article
Authors Ryan Bakker
Seth Jolly
Jonathan Polk
Published in Public Choice
Volume 176
Issue 1-2, Special Issue: SI
Pages 267-296
ISSN 0048-5829
Publication year 2018
Published at Centre for European Research (CERGU)
Department of Political Science
Pages 267-296
Language en
Keywords Elections, European Union, Incongruence, Parties
Subject categories Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)


© 2018 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature Does ideological incongruence hurt parties in elections? Research on the representational relationship between parties and voters suggests that ideological congruence can boost a party’s electoral prospects. However, while the mechanism is at the individual-level, most of the literature focuses on the party-level. In this article, we develop a set of hypotheses based on a multi-issue conception of party-voter congruence at the individual-level, and examine the electoral consequences of these varying congruence levels in the 2014 European Parliament elections. Consistent with our expectations, comparative analysis finds that ideological and issue-specific incongruence is a significant factor in voting behavior in the European Parliament elections. Although the substantive effects of incongruence are understandably small compared to partisanship, government, or EU performance evaluations, party-voter disagreement consistently matters, and voters’ issue salience is an important moderator of the impact of incongruence on vote choice.

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