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La course au centre

Policy Convergence and Partisanship in France, 1981-2002

Sally Marthaler

Policy convergence between the political parties and the perception among voters that there is little to choose between left and right may be factors in the declining levels of partisanship observed in many advanced industrial democracies, including France, where these conditions emerged in the 1980s. Drawing on both quantitative and qualitative data, this article analyzes changes in the actual and perceived level of convergence between the mainstream parties in France from 1981 to 2002. It finds evidence of increasing policy convergence over the period as a result of a combination of endogenous and exogenous factors. It concludes that left-right ideological labels are still important to voters, even though they too have moved to the center, and that many of them want to see a clear dividing-line between the parties. The blurring of the boundaries between left and right and the “reversibility” of the mainstream parties has also enhanced the appeal of alternative and extremist parties.

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Wähler als Wandervögel: Dealignment and the German Voter

Russell J. Dalton and Wilhelm Bürklin

The 2002 Bundestag elections demonstrate the emerging new style

of German electoral politics. Where once party competition was

built upon a stable base of Stammwähler, the catchword for 2002 was

the Wechselwähler—the changing voter. The traditional bonds to social

groups, such as class and religion, have steadily eroded across Bundestag

elections in the late twentieth century, and these bonds had a

diminished impact in 2002. Similarly, this chapter will demonstrate

that affective psychological ties that once connected citizens to their

preferred party have also weakened. Certainly some German voters

remain connected to a social milieu or a habitual party tie, but the

number of these voters is steadily decreasing.

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Voter Registration Cards, Political Subjectivity, and Trust in Paper in the Gambia

Niklas Hultin

This article examines the voter registration card and the social context of voter registrations in the Gambia, West Africa. Drawing on recent ethnographies of documents and using data on worries over foreigners’ efforts to fraudulently obtain voter registration cards, a public information campaign on the Gambian electoral process, international legal material on the Gambian democracy, and observations at voter registration stations, the article argues that the voter registration card delineates not only a national subject but also a generic political subject. This subject is characterized by a commitment to a bureaucratic process and an appreciation of the card as an official identification document inseparable from the person it identifies. The article also considers how the voter registration process allows Gambians to compare their experiences to citizens of other countries. In a political context of an authoritarian government and a weak rule of law, this comparison offers an ideal of a modern democratic state that both enables criticism of the Gambia’s present situation and confirms the centrality of a generic political subject to the realization of that ideal.

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The Election Campaign: Political Actors, the Media and Voters

Carlo Marletti

An electoral campaign is a complex process in which political

actors interact with the mass media in order to orient the voting

preferences and choices of the electorate. It is presumed – but cannot

be taken for granted – that the election campaign is the period

in which the use of propaganda and various forms of political

communication is at its peak. In fact, the interaction between

media and politics has long since become a structural given of contemporary

democracies,1 and periods in which significant political

communication campaigns are developed form part of a cycle that

has become independent of electoral deadlines. It can even be

hypothesised that election campaigns are becoming an ‘internal

moment’ of these larger cycles during which the climate of opinion

that is asserted compromises the election result, sometimes

anticipating the election outcome by even several months.

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Setting a Trend?

Support for the Greens and the FDP in the 2021 Bundestag Election

Andreas M. Wüst

happened spontaneously, but must have been planned at least some days before the election. The meeting and the uniform mode and content of communication (mainly directed at younger voters) were clever strategic moves of the two prospective coalition

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’Tis but a Habit in an Unconsolidated Democracy

Habitual Voting, Political Alienation and Spectatorship

Anthony Lawrence A. Borja

way to evaluate the progress of a democratisation project is by looking at the development of this civic practice in terms of both quantity (voter turnout) and quality (voters’ preferences). Focusing on the former, specifically the impact of political

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The Left Party and the AfD

Populist Competitors in Eastern Germany

Jonathan Olsen

than it did in 2013 and saw its voter share rise in the western states by almost 2.5 percent. It netted an additional five members of parliament (MdBs) as a result of the election and won five direct mandates (four in Berlin, one in Leipzig). Seen from

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A Tale of Two Electorates?

The 2021 Federal Election and the AfD Voter in East and West

Michael A. Hansen and Jonathan Olsen

easterners see the party as representing “their” interests. Nevertheless, it is undeniable that the AfD has been much more attractive to eastern German voters than western German voters. The party is also without doubt a “populist competitor” in the East to

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“Revenge of the East”?

The AfD's Appeal in Eastern Germany and Mainstream Parties’ Responses

Jennifer A. Yoder

, the AfD won support from 1.2 million previous nonvoters. 2 As a proportion of previous vote share, die Linke, lost the most support to the AfD; about one in ten of its voters switched to the AfD. These patterns were largely replicated in the May

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The Enduring Effect of Immigration Attitudes on Vote Choice

Evidence from the 2021 German Federal Election

Hannah M. Alarian

support for their xenophobic and racist message from an ideologically diverse electorate as early as 2013. 2 German far-right parties, eternally stoking immigration fears, sought to capitalize on such movements to court non-voters ( Nichtwähler ) and