New Approaches to Electoral Volatility: Evidence from Postcommunist Countries

39 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 23 Sep 2009

Date Written: 2009


The development of a stable party system is considered an essential element of a consolidated democracy. Party system stability has been most frequently been measured in terms of electoral volatility, which attempts to capture the stability of the electorate's preferences across elections. The traditional measure of party stability, Pedersen's Index of Volatility, however, includes both volatility among stable parties and volatility created by party entry and exit without distinguishing between the two. To address these concerns, we separate these different components of volatility into their constituent parts, creating a Type A Volatility measure that captures volatility from party entry and exit and a Type B Volatility measure that captures volatility among stable parties and address the numerous issues that arise in coding these variables. We then apply these measures to 80 pairs of elections from 21 post-communist elections and demonstrate that much of what has previously been labeled electoral volatility in post-communist countries turns out to be Type A Volatility. We also demonstrate that traditional multivariate models of electoral volatility generate very different results if we employ Type A or Type B Volatility as the dependent variable. We conclude the paper with a discussion of future directions for new theoretical and empirical research on electoral volatility that builds on the concepts of Type A and Type B Volatility.

Keywords: Electoral Volatility, Voting, Elections, Pedersen's Index, post-communist countries, political behavior

Suggested Citation

Powell, Eleanor Neff and Tucker, Joshua Aaron, New Approaches to Electoral Volatility: Evidence from Postcommunist Countries (2009). APSA 2009 Toronto Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN:

Eleanor Neff Powell

Yale University ( email )

Joshua Aaron Tucker (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) ( email )

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