Multi-level voting participation
Posted 1/6/2008 18:43 (#35)
Subject: Multi-level voting participation

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Posts: 2

This proposal is made in conjunction with a research project that we have recently begun entitled ""Opportunities for Citizen Engagement: Multi-level Political Participation in Canada and Europe". We expect to be working on this project over the next four years, analyzing a number of datasets that contain information on voting participation at more than one level of government. All of the countries in the 2009 European election study provide participation opportunities at a minimum of three levels – European Parliament, national, and local. Some federal polities, or those with regional assemblies, also provide voting opportunities at a subnational level, and some countries will have held referendums that are of significance. Because participation rates in European Parliament elections are low and declining in most EU countries, our analysis will attempt to place voting participation in European Parliament elections in a broader context of participation than has been possible in the previous European Election studies. Because election surveys often ask about only one (or at most two) levels of voting, this is a topic that has not to date been very researchable.

Our project has a particular focus on young voters, whose low rates of entry into the electorate in recent years account for much of the turnout decline in many countries. Systems of multi-level governance provide several distinct entry points for young citizens to begin their active voting life. These can reinforce patterns of non-participation to the point where withdrawal becomes a syndrome, or alternatively they may provide avenues for more selective participation. We will examine a series of hypotheses about factors which help to determine whether young people become regular voters, occasional voters, or potentially permanent nonvoters. These hypotheses involve the impact of the political context of the elections, parental socialization patterns, perceived pressures from non-political activity, the presence of alternative participatory activities, the complexity of multi-level governance, and variations in political and electoral institutions. Depending on the content of the EES, we expect that a subset of these hypotheses will be testable using the 2009 EES datasets.

Inclusion of the proposed questions (attached) in the 2009 European Election Study, together with contextual information on the timing of elections at other levels, will provide useful additional data to a broad community of scholars interested in examining interactions between elections at different levels of government or patterns of participation at different levels. The wording of the proposed questions can be adjusted as necessary to varying national contexts, and the specific items on voting participation at each level can be situated at any appropriate locations in the questionnaire. We do not propose to ask questions about the actual direction of vote at these additional levels, although this could be added where desired by the national teams. The voting participation items therefore do not need to be asked in a single sequence, although the attitudinal item (#2) should be. The inclusion of contextual information on the dates of elections at the different levels (#3) is an important complement to the survey items, and will make the dataset extremely useful to scholars interested in the proximity of EP elections to those held at other levels.

Lawrence LeDuc (University of Toronto)
Jon H. Pammett (Carleton University)

Attachments Multilevel voting questions.pdf (21KB - 12 downloads)
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Posted 15/6/2008 21:37 (#76 - in reply to #35)
Subject: RE: Multi-level voting participation


Posts: 11

EESs would seem to provide a good opportunity to ask about participation in elections at different levels. But we already need to ask about a lot of elections: the just past EP election, the previous national election, and the next national election. I fear creating confusion if we start to ask about elections at additional levels; but we certainly should seriously consider adding at least regional elections to those we currently ask about.
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Posted 16/7/2008 16:15 (#94 - in reply to #35)
Subject: RE: Multi-level voting participation

Posts: 26
Location: University of Oxford, UK

Dear Professors LeDuc and Pammett,

Thank you for submitting this proposal to the Open Forum. The PIREDEU Steering Committee met at the end of June to evaluate each of the proposals.  We assessed them on the basis of whether they met the following criteria:


*         An explicit argument about why the proposed question/coding category merited inclusion in one or more of the PIREDEU data components.


*         An explicit argument about the conceptual and theoretical foundations of the question/coding category.


*         An explicit case for how the question/coding category facilitates integration and linking of several data components. The PIREDEU Steering Committee preferred proposals that allowed for conceptual integration across the five data components (i.e. voter survey, candidate survey, media study, manifestos and contextual data).


*         An explicit consideration of how the proposed question/coding category linked with questions/coding categories in past data collection efforts.


The PIREDEU Steering Committee favoured proposals that ensured over time and across instrument comparability. Moreover, given that the voter and candidate surveys can only contain a limited number of question items, priority was given to proposals with succinct question formats.


On this basis we ranked each question in the proposal as follows:


(1) The proposed item will be included in data collection instrument
(2) High priority proposal that will be included if space and time constraints permit
(3) Proposal can only be included if additional funding is secured
(4) Proposed item is not a priority


The item(s) from your proposal received the following ranking(s):


Instrument: Voter Survey


1. European Parliament: Did you vote in the recent European Parliament elections, which were held on [DATE]?     
Ranking: 1
2. National elections (Parliamentary): Thinking back to the last national (parliamentary) elections, which were held on [DATE], do you remember if you voted in those elections?
Ranking: 1


Rational: These items were found on prior voter surveys and will be included as part of the core battery of questions to ensure comparability over time.

3. Thinking back to the last presidential elections, which were held on [DATE], do you remember if you voted in those elections?
Ranking: 4
4. Regional/state elections (where applicable) Thinking back to the last regional/state elections, which were held on [DATE*], do you remember if you voted in those elections?
Ranking: 4
5. Local elections Thinking back to the last local elections, which were held on [DATE*], do you remember if you voted in those elections?
Ranking: 4


Rationale: These items were unfortunately not included because the focus of the voter survey is the 2009 EP election. We already have a large number of voting questions (EP election, previous national election, next national election) and we do not want to confuse our respondents. Also on average the elections referred to in questions 3-5 will be 3 years in the past, making recall problematic.

6. Referendum (where applicable – national level or significant regional only, most recent) There was a referendum on [SUBJECT] which took place on [DATE]. Do you remember if you voted in that referendum? 
Ranking: 4                                                                                                                                                                           


7. Thinking back to the last European Parliament election before this one, which was held in June 2004, do you remember if you voted in that election?
Ranking: 4


Rationale: These items were not included because it was believed voters would not be able to accurately recall their choices. The same problems with regard to time and recall apply.

1. People are called upon to vote in elections at different levels of government – European, national, state, local, and sometimes in referendums. Thinking generally and not about any specific election, please tell me how important it is to you personally to vote in elections at that level, on a scale of 1 to 7, where 1 is not at all important and 7 is very important.
Ranking: 4

Rationale: This item was not included, because of the view that asking respondents directly is not necessarily the best way to assess salience of different elections.

Instrument: Contextual Data


We propose to embed the dates of all elections and referendums held in the jurisdiction over the five year European Parliament election cycle into the dataset.
Ranking: 1


Rationale: The contextual data team will be collecting the dates of all EP, national, regional, and local elections.

Thank you again for your participation in this process. We hope that you will continue to use the Open Forum to comment on the questionnaires/codebook that will be posted online on the Forum in the autumn.


Yours sincerely,


Mark Franklin                                                 
Chair of the PIREDEU Steering Committee


Sara Hobolt                 
Deputy Chair of the PIREDEU Steering Committee

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