Migrant Political Participation and Voting Behavior in Romania
32 Pages Posted: 29 Aug 2015
Date Written: August 27, 2015
The results of the first round 2014 presidential elections in Romania predicted a comfortable win for the incumbent Prime Minister Victor Ponta, the president of the Social Democratic Party. After the first round, Ponta held a 10% lead over the Christian-Liberal Alliance candidate Klaus Iohannis. The runoff campaign was marked by reports displayed on all TV channels showing the Romanian Diaspora not being able to vote abroad. Surprisingly, Klaus Iohannis, who obtained 54% of the votes, won the second round of elections. Iohannis obtained 89% of Diaspora’s votes, adding a 4% gain in front of his contender. In most studies on electoral behavior, the focus for explaining why people go to vote is centered at the level of the “country, election, electoral cohort or individual voter” (Franklin 2004). Notably absent from these studies is the impact Diaspora on the election results and the predictors of turnout. The impact on national elections of this category of citizens is not to be neglected and it becomes important especially in democratizing states. In this vein we focus on the predictors that lie behind the political participation and preferences of Romanian Diaspora. We will test two basic models that explain participation (Franklin 2004). First there is research that focuses on the social determinants of voting (Verba and Nie 1972) labeled as “the baseline model”. Another stream of studies includes electoral system effects and political system format (Blais and Aarts 2006, Cox 1997, Franklin 2004). We claim that Romanian Diaspora voters participate in higher numbers in presidential elections when the number of voting stations increases. Romanian diaspora consistently votes with center right wing parties and candidates. This vote is associated with liberal policy preferences and support for issues that promote libertarian attitudes. We test these hypotheses with elections results data from 2000 to 2014 coupled with data collected from Votulmeu.com an online Voting Advice Application from the 2014 presidential elections in Romania.
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