- Are volatile voters erratic, whimsical, or seriously picky? A panel study of 58 waves into the nature of electoral volatility (the Netherlands 2006-2010)
- Party Politics
- Volume | Issue number
- 21 | 1
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
Electorates appear to be adrift. Across Western Europe electoral volatility is increasing. But are volatile voters whimsical? Do they behave randomly, like drift sand, or are they emancipated, not committed to a single political party but loyal to their own preferences? To answer these questions this study focuses on the Dutch electorate, which has become the most volatile in Western Europe. We analyse the extensive 1Vandaag Opinion Panel (1VOP) dataset, which covers 55,847 adult respondents who participated in at least 2 of the 58 waves between November 2006 and June 2010. 1VOP allows us to break down electoral volatility by type, direction (intra-bloc versus inter-bloc) and time span. We conclude that volatility reflects voter emancipation rather than disengagement. Although more than half of the respondents (55 percent) change party preference at least once, they mostly stick to one of two ideologically coherent party blocs. Especially middle groups are volatile: people with modal income, with average levels of education and who position themselves in the political centre. However, the lower educated are more likely to switch between dissimilar parties. Our findings question the socialization model: although older voters are relatively loyal when they cast their ballots, they are the most volatile in the years in between.
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