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Electoral nationalization in a denationalized party system: the case(s) of Belgium

TitleElectoral nationalization in a denationalized party system: the case(s) of Belgium
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsRusso, Luana, and Kris Deschouwer
Conference Name3rd European Conference on Comparative Electoral Research
KeywordsBelgium, nationalization, voter response

It has been demonstrated that in most of the countries electoral behaviour follows a pattern of nationalization, that is, national politics substitutes local politics (Caramani 2004, Alemán and Kellam 2008). However, in few countries (Belgium, Britain and Italy) where new federalizing tendencies created a local space for electoral competition an opposing trend towards some re-territorialisation of voting behaviour is observable (Caramani 2004). Differently from Britain and Italy, Belgium is a federal state in which from 1972 onwards the party offer was different for the two main regions: Flanders and Wallonia.
In this paper we show that the pattern of re-territorialisation of electoral behaviour observed in Belgium (Caramani 2004) is mainly due to the structuration of the electoral offer and when considering Flanders and Wallonia separately a clear pattern of nationalization emerges.
The nationalization estimates are obtained by using the Bochsler index (2010), which allows measuring the nationalization at the country level, and it was conceived not to be sensitive to the size and the number of parties. Therefore, the Bochsler index is the best instrument when dealing with a comparative or a longitudinal design.
From a substantive point of view, the aim of this paper is to improve our understanding of the phenomenon of nationalization and provide insight into the complex interplay between the structuration of the party offer and its effect on the voters.

Russo Deschouwer TEV.pdf846.8 KB