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Main objectives

The main objective of the Action is to increase the material preconditions and the scholarly competence for analyzing variations in the effectiveness of electoral democracy in Europe across countries and over time. Preconditions will be strengthened by the identification, adaption and integration of the variety of national specific data bases on electoral behaviour. The scientific focus of the Action is threefold. Due to the variety of national traditions of electoral research in Europe, one focus looks back in time and identifies and compares the major research strategies and findings in the different COST countries. The second focus is on the comparability of the wealth of data that have been collected by the National Election Studies. A third focus is on the development of a common theoretical framework and research agenda.

The first half of the Action is mostly occupied with data collection tasks, while the second half will be devoted to data analysis, dissemination and publication of results. Training activities for young scholars will be offered throughout the Action. In addtion, up to 30 Short-Term Scientific Missions are planned during which much of the data harmonisation and integration will be done in by young scholars under the supervision of experts.

The tasks of this Action will be implemented by three Working Groups:
The History of European Electoral Research (History Group)
Creating ‘The European Voter Database’ (Data Group)
The Methods of Comparative Electoral Research (Methods Group)

The envisaged deliverables of the Action are of four kinds:

first, a common data set which includes the findings of National Election Studies from all the COST countries with a tradition of empirical electoral research will be delivered at the end of this grant period. This is the main deliverable of the Action and the current estimate is that this database will include survey information from 24 countries and roughly 250 individual election studies.
second, an annual Winter Training School on methodological issues of comparative electoral analysis for up to 30 young scholars of electoral democracy coming from all over the COST countries;
third, an annual Scientific Conference
forth and last, a variety of peer-reviewed articles and two common books written by participating scholars and published by a good publishing house.

Secondary objectives

The secondary objectives of the Action are:

-the identification and comparison of the theoretical frames in which the diverse national election studies have been carried on after World War Two
-the identification of national election studies that carry a large enough number of comparable indicators
-the documentation of relevant aspects of the fieldwork of the studies included, among them: sampling details, completion rates, and mode of survey administration
-the building of an inventory of comparable indicators across countries and over time
-the translation of respective survey questions and answering categories into English (where necessary)
-the recoding of comparable indicators into a common format, plus the documentation of this process in a common codebook
-the integration of comparable variables into a common data base (including proper documentation of country origin, year of election, study and respondent identification, etc)
-the identification, collection and data integration of relevant macro variables (context measures)
-the analysis of the integrated dataset
-the adoption and dissemination within the electoral researchers community of up to date techniques of electoral analysis
-the building of a fully integrated theoretical frame of European electoral behaviour at national level
-the dissemination of the Actions findings in several user communities