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David Nachmias, Maoz Rosenthal and Hani Zubida

While national government elections are perceived as first order institutions that result in relatively high turnout rates, local elections are viewed as second-order institutions and are usually characterized by low turnout rates. We claim that this behavior is conditioned by the stakes that voters associate with elections as well as the voters' relative position in the socio-ethnic stratification structure. In this article we show that such conditions may yield an inversion in voters' perspectives. In other words, voters who are alienated from national government institutions and who are effectively mobilized by leaders of their socio-ethnic groups, which have high stakes in second-order institutions, tend to invert their preference with regard to the significance of elections. In such instances, national elections become second-order elections, and local elections become first-order elections. We use ballot-box level data from two national and two local elections in Israel to test this theory.

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Gérard Grunberg

The 2007 presidential elections have been the most important in France since 1981 because they provoked ruptures in the way the state and the French political system function. These ruptures, which this essay explores, include: the structural advantage the Right now has over the Left in national elections; the extension of the president's power and role in the regime; the transformation of the French political parties system into bipartism; and, finally, evolution inside the two major French parties due not only to the personality, ideas and choices of their respective candidates but also to the growing role of the president in the regime and its effects.

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Vincenzo Emanuele and Nicola Maggini

The importance of the 2016 municipal elections in Italy was a consequence not only of the number and relevance of the cities involved, including Rome, Milan, Naples, and Turin, but also of their timing, occurring in the middle of the 2013–2018 electoral cycle. These elections were thus perceived as a mid-term test for the national government, acquiring a relevance that went beyond their specific local context. This chapter analyzes the electoral supply, voter turnout, electoral results, and vote shifts, focusing on a synchronic and diachronic comparison of the performance of the candidates and the parties. The evidence presented shows that despite winning the plurality of municipalities, the Democratic Party clearly paid the cost of ruling at the national level. The number of its mayors was halved, and it was defeated in Rome and Turin by the Five Star Movement, the true winner of these elections.

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Pascal Perrineau

Nicolas Sarkozy's victory in the 2007 French presidential elections represents a true rupture: rupture with years of political apathy, rupture with what was an escalating rise of political protest, rupture with a "law" that since 1981 seemed to require that every outgoing majority be beaten. Sarkozy's electoral victory was substantial. It was built on a notion that what the French were looking for was a strong sense of direction, and it gave rise to a dynamic of striking change right after the election (a political opening to the left, a shift in presidential style, disarray in the Socialist Party, and the marginalization of the National Front).

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Edoardo Bressanelli

The European elections of May 2014 proved to be a key trial run for several actors within the Italian party system. Academic literature on these elections has often viewed European Parliament elections as “second-order” elections, that is, as expressions of opinion on the incumbent national government. This chapter analyzes whether this model still applies. It shows that the European Parliament elections were an unusual form of second-order election, in that they allowed voters to reward the Renzi government, which was still enjoying a honeymoon period.

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Silvia Bolgherini and Selena Grimaldi

The regional elections that were held in May 2015 have confirmed the changes that have recently been taking place in the politicalparty system in Italy: the end of the bipolar system and the emergence of a third pole consisting of the M5S. The tripolarism at the regional level can be attributed not only to the success of the M5S, but also to the loss of salience of the center-right and the disappointing performance of the center-left. In terms of the political offer, this election round showed an increase in party fragmentation and the average number of candidates and a greater variability in the number and type of coalitions than in previous contests. In terms of results, it showed a greater dispersion of the vote between the candidates for the presidency and identified the M5S and the LN as the two axes on which the new balance of power in the regions is centered.

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Introduction

Politics and Power after the 2017 Bundestag Election

Eric Lagenbacher

Although it has not been that long since the articles of the previous special issue devoted to the 2017 Bundestag election and its aftermath have been published, the political situation in Germany appears to have stabilized. After almost six months without a new government, German politics has sunk back into a kind of late-Merkel era normality. Public opinion polls continue to show that the CDU/CSU is slightly above its election outcome, the SPD is still down in the 17–18 percent range, the FDP has lost about 2 percent of its support, while the AfD, Greens and Left Party are up 1–2 percent.

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Progress But Still No Présidente

Women and the 2012 French Presidential Elections

Rainbow Murray

Several women vied to be elected France's new president in 2012. These included Ségolène Royal, former Socialist presidential candidate in 2007, and Martine Aubry, Socialist party leader. Both these women were defeated by Fran?ois Hollande in the Socialist primary. In the main election, Marine le Pen garnered many headlines as the new leader of the controversial far-right party, the Front national. This article considers the campaigns and the media coverage of these women, as well as highlights the impact for women of the scandal surrounding disgraced politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn. The policy proposals of the different candidates are evaluated, before concluding with a discussion of the future prospects for women. There is some evidence of progress for women since the previous election, but women are still far from achieving full political equality in France.

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Rolf Steltemeier

After the first Bundestag elections in 1949, the Free Democratic Party (FDP) established itself as kingmaker either of the Christian Democrats or the Social Democrats. The entrance of the Green Party into the German Bundestag in 1983 brought about a significant change in the German political landscape, which challenged the German Liberals to redefine themselves. At present, it seems that the FDP is on its way back into the federal government after ten years of opposition, although "neoliberal" ideology is currently facing a severe international crisis. This constitutes a puzzling issue for political scientists, which is addressed in this article by analyzing the factors that can explain the German Liberal's latest success. Furthermore, the FDP's chances in comparison to the other two small parties (Left Party and Greens) are discussed. Finally, attention is focused on the characteristics of the FDP's election campaign and its coalition options for 2009 and beyond.

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From Political Fringe to Political Mainstream

The Front National and the 2014 Municipal Elections in France

Gabriel Goodliffe

The March 2014 municipal elections in France confirmed the electoral effectiveness of the Front national’s (FN) strategic reorientation under Marine Le Pen by validating the party’s organizational gambit to wrest local political control from the mainstream parties. This article analyzes the FN’s performance in these elections from the standpoint of political demand and supply. First, it elaborates the social, economic, and partisan conditions of political demand that have enhanced the party’s electoral traction among a growing segment of French voters. In turn, it focuses on the factors of political supply—notably the discursive and organizational aggiornamento undergone by the FN under Marine Le Pen’s leadership—by which the party has been able to expand its local appeal. The article then assesses what the electoral results bode for the FN’s positioning and status within the French party system, arguing that they herald its transformation from serving as a protest party to occupying a direct policymaking role.