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3rd European Conference on Comparative Electoral Research

True European VoterMannheim Centre for European Social ResearchAristotle University of Thessaloniki

Announcement and Call for Papers

Final Conference of the COST Action IS0806 "The True European Voter"

3rd European Conference on Comparative Electoral Research
25-27 April 2014, Thessaloniki, Greece

Organized by the Department of Political Sciences
Laboratory of Applied Political Research, Aristotle University Thessaloniki

Academic convenors:
Hermann Schmitt (Universities of Manchester and Mannheim)
Paolo Segatti (University of Milan)
Eftichia Teperoglou (MZES, Germany and CIES-IUL, Portugal)

Local conference organizer:
Theodore Chadjipadelis

Read how to upload you paper for the conference

Over the past years, there has been a “contextual turn” in comparative political science. As far as voting behavior is concerned, the usual mantra is that voters as individuals follow more or less the same calculus when they have to make up their mind in an election. What makes the difference are the contexts in which they are nested. Contexts can vary in scale and in nature. Macro contexts are usually located at country level, and they mostly refer to the setting of political institution, to the state of the national economy, or to the quality of administrative institutions. Micro context are the network of interpersonal relations immediately surrounding the voters. Time is also a context which includes the social and economic make-up of a society at a given time as well as the general characteristics of party competition and the characteristics of political parties involved in it (like ideology, size, incumbency or newness). .
The availability of comparative data (Comparative Study of Electoral Systems, the European Voter dataset, the European Election Study, the European Social Survey, the World Values Survey) has been a driving force in the contextual turn in electoral behavior studies. At the same time, the diffusion of multilevel modeling has provided the proper instruments to assess the impact of several types of contextual effects on individual behavior.

The 3rd European Conference on Comparative Electoral Research within the framework of the True European Voter COST Action aims to provide an open forum for presentation, exchange and discussion of original and explicitly comparative empirical electoral research, devoted to the identification of different types of contextual effects. We hope to attract papers from a wide variety of different theoretical, methodological and analytical backgrounds. Moreover, the event is the final conference of the Action and it is expected that its main deliverables and achievements will be presented during the conference. The contributors of the forthcoming analytical book of the project are welcome to present their work. Special attention will be given to the analysis of the contribution to the three ongoing debates that constitute the main objectives of the Action. These are the democratic quality of the political process in the European Union, the nature of party competition in the newly democratizing post-communist countries of Eastern Europe and the multi-level nature of electoral politics in the European Union. A round table will be organized focusing on the challenges and competitiveness of the European research area in the field of electoral studies and the role of the True European Voter in it.

The conference will offer plenary events with keynote speakers and five panel sessions chaired and discussed by members of the True European Voter COST Action. For these sessions, we invite submission of paper proposals with a focus on contextual variation in the determination of electoral choices. Electoral choice obviously includes electoral participation as well as the choice of a given party or candidate, but prospective paper givers should not limit themselves to turnout and choice as dependent variables. Those who study other aspects of electoral behavior such as involvement in election campaigns (e.g. discussing politics, attending meetings, visiting parties websites, using social medias or Voting Advice Applications), the (un)certainty and timing of the vote choice, the processing of electoral information, the impact of positive and negative emotions, may fit the conference theme very well as long as the proposed papers are comparative and empirical in character and consider context as moderators of individual level processes. Prospective paper givers are invited to conceptually identify and to empirically model different types of contextual effects (direct, indirect or conditional).

The Panel sessions will be organized according to the different scale and nature of the context and its impact on the electoral choice as it was broadly defined above. Above all (but not excluding other proposals) we hope to receive paper abstracts focusing on the following panels:

  • Panel one will be dedicated to the impact of the institutional setting on the vote which includes not only the electoral system but also the form of government. Here we welcome papers which seek to tackle research questions such as how the institutional framework and context of elections matter, the dynamic relationship between the institutional design and electoral behavior, the impact of electoral rules on voting behavior and political representation, the connection between the electoral system in use and the quality of electoral representation.
  • The impact of the economic crisis is the main topic of the second panel of the conference. This panel welcomes paper proposals which aim to assess empirically the political consequences of the current economic crisis for political alignments and to analyze the way in which voters’ assign responsibility for economic conditions. This panel welcomes both comparative papers and case-studies focusing on the effects of the economic crisis on vote choice, the linkage between economic performance of governments, the Europhile or Eurosceptic stances of political parties and the electoral performance of them. Paper proposals that also address the economic crisis and the success of minor and extreme parties fit to this panel as well.
  • Another panel will be dedicated to the impact of interpersonal networks of discussion immediately surrounding the voters. We welcome paper proposals which seek to investigate the social calculus of voting by examining the relationship between interpersonal intermediates and media exposure. Papers in this category will address whether or not individuals’ political decisions depend on the character of their interpersonal networks. We hope that comparative papers in that panel can provide deeper insights and will advance the research agenda initiated by the early Columbia studies.
  • A fourth panel will be devoted on the impact of time on the effect of individual determinants of electoral choices across countries. Here we welcome paper proposals which focus on the contextual variables that adapt the long-term perspective of socio-political change by addressing the domains of social modernization, ideological (de-) polarization, and political dis-engagement. Effects of the location of elections in the electoral cycle is a somewhat narrower perspective but also pertinent here.
  • Finally, a fifth panel will be dedicated to the impact of the supply side of electoral competition on the voting choice. For this panel we seek to recruit papers that are focusing on party discourse analysis, the interaction between party programs and the determinants of vote choice, ideological polarisation and the relative prominence of ideology as a predictor of vote choices or the interaction between the relative importance of political leaders for the determination of the vote.

Paper proposals (using the submission form) should be sent by 24 February 2014 to Proposals should contain a title and an abstract (up to 400 words), with concise information about research questions, theoretical approach, study design, data, and expected results. Authors will be notified by February 27. Contributions to travel and accommodation costs are available for a limited number of paper givers (on the basis of an accepted proposal and complementing other funding). Authors seeking such support will be notified by March 3.