Voter Choice and Partisan Representation: One Link in the Chain of Party Government

32 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 25 Aug 2009

Date Written: 2009


Contemporary democracy is largely based on a framework of party government that connects the voters to the outputs of government using political parties as a linkage mechanism. This paper examines one aspect of this linkage process: how the public’s political orientations, based on the Left-Right scale, influence their voting choices. As we should expect, there is a strong relationship in most democracies, although also substantial cross-national variation. We then consider how this representation process functions for voter-party dyads, and the fit between the Left-Right orientations of party voters and their chosen party. These party dyads display very strong congruence; like-minded voters and parties are able to link together at election time. The results suggest party voters as a group are very well represented in the political system by a party that broadly shares their basic Left-Right orientations. We base our empirical analyses on the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES) module II.

Keywords: Left-Right, voting, policy voting, representation, political parties, elections, CSES

Suggested Citation

Dalton, Russell J., Voter Choice and Partisan Representation: One Link in the Chain of Party Government (2009). APSA 2009 Toronto Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN:

Russell J. Dalton (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine ( email )

Department of Political Science
Irvine, CA 92697-5100
United States
(949) 824-6569 (Phone)
(949) 824-8762 (Fax)

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