- How second order are local elections? Voting motives and party preferences in Belgian municipal elections
- Local Government Studies
- Volume | Issue number
- 41 | 6
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
A defining characteristic of second-order elections is that voters base their decision on considerations that were developed for a different policy level. Therefore, this kind of elections does not contribute to the quality of democratic representation. Municipal elections are often considered as second-order elections. In this article, we use data from an exit poll (n = 4,591) held during the 2012 municipal elections in Belgium. Results suggest that although voters predominantly invoke local aspects as determining their vote choice, still three-quarters votes for the same party locally as for federal elections. Among voters who deviate from their federal party preference, knowing local candidates and concern about local policy issues are the main sources of deviation. The conclusion therefore is that local candidates do make a difference and contribute strongly to the salience of electoral decisions on the local level.
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