Economy, Ideology, and the Elephant in the Room: A Research Note on the Elections of the Great Recession in Europe

33 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2012  

Pedro C. Magalhães

Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon

Date Written: August 2, 2012

Abstract

The electoral performance of incumbent parties in legislative elections in Europe since the beginning of the "Great Recession" has been described in two contrasting ways. For some, it has been characterized by an "anti-leftist" wave, signalling a change in voters fundamental preferences against leftist parties and policies. For others, ideology has had little to do with recent events: instead, voters have simply punished incumbents for bad performances and rewarded them for good ones, as a simple "retrospective voting" theory would suggest. Looking at the electoral performance of Prime Ministers' parties from January 2008 until today, the paper shows that results are, instead, most compatible with a "luxury parties" hypothesis: under conditions of low or negative growth, leftist incumbents have done significantly worse than rightist ones, while, for those countries where growth resumed, leftist incumbents have done significantly better. Furthermore, the paper suggests that part of the continued decline in the electoral performance of incumbents in many countries observed until today is fundamentally a Eurozone phenomenon: voters in those countries seem to be turning their dissatisfaction with the protracted financial, currency, and political crisis in the Eurozone to the target more at hand - i.e., national governments - punishing them increasingly and above and beyond what developments in the domestic economic would justify.

Keywords: Elections, Great Recession, Ideology, Luxury Parties, Retrospective Voting, Economic Voting

JEL Classification: D72

Suggested Citation

Magalhães, Pedro C., Economy, Ideology, and the Elephant in the Room: A Research Note on the Elections of the Great Recession in Europe (August 2, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2122416 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2122416

Pedro C. Magalhães (Contact Author)

Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon ( email )

Av. Prof. Anibal de Bettencourt, 9
Lisbon, 1600-189
Portugal

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