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Does party system nationalization affect individual voting behavior? Evidence from 23 European countries

TitleDoes party system nationalization affect individual voting behavior? Evidence from 23 European countries
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsMaggini, Nicola, and Vincenzo Emanuele
Conference Name2nd European Conference on Comparative Electoral Research
Keywordscontextual effects, EU countries, multilevel analysis, party system nationalization, Voting Behavior

Nationalization of politics is a major long-term political phenomenon related to the historical evolution toward the formation of national electorates and party systems and carried out through the progressive reduction of the territoriality of political cleavages [Caramani 2004]. During the last decades, a large amount of literature addressed the issue of nationalization, proposing from time to time different ways of conceptualizing this phenomenon and, as a consequence, many indicators in order to measure it. However, all these studies focused only on systemic processes dealing exclusively with aggregate data. Therefore, an empirical analysis about the effect of party system nationalization on individual voting behavior has never been developed.
Party system nationalization, considered as the level of homogeneity of voting behavior between the different territorial units of a country, is one of the context dimensions that can interact with various determinants of vote choices. How this specific context dimension moderates the explanatory power of individual level characteristics? On which determinants of vote choice does party system nationalization have a greater impact?
In order to answer this question, we will focus on 23 European countries through the use of the 2009 European Election Study [van Egmond et al. 2011] adding to the original dataset the party system nationalization variable for each country, measured through Bochsler’s standardized index [2010]. The strategy of analysis will be based on a novel application to vote choice variables of the stacked-dataset, multilevel analysis design originally developed by van der Eijk and Franklin [1996; 2009] whose advantages are the inclusion of all (including small) parties, as well as the possibility of including party features in the explanatory model. The dependent variable of this analysis is the PTV - the propensity to vote for a party in general [van der Eijk and Franklin 1996; van der Eijk et al. 2006] - while the explanatory variables belong to two different groups, the individual level variables and the party level ones. They both will be interacted with party system nationalization in order to assess the effect of the context on the vote choice function.
We expect that nationalization will have a valuable impact on voting behavior as individual characteristics related to social cleavages as well as political factors related to ideological proximity are taken into account.

party system nationalization_ individual voting behavior.pdf1.32 MB