What happened to incumbency voting? location:Leuven date:22 November 2012
An abundance of comparative survey research has established the presence of economic voting as a individual force in European elections. But the hypothesis of economic voting at the aggregate level, with macroeconomics influencing overall electoral outcomes, rests on shakier ground. Indeed, there might be a micrological fallacy at work, with the individual economic vote effect not adding up to a national electoral effect after all. We examine this possibility through rigorous analysis of a large time-series cross-sectional data-set of European nations. From these results, it becomes clear that the macroeconomy moves national election outcomes, with hard times punishing governing parties, and good times rewarding them. Then the question is whether this economy-election connection alters with economic crisis. We show that in general economic crisis, defined as negative growth, reinforces the national economic vote, especially in the hard-pressed nations of Southern Europe. In these nations under crisis, the ruling parties are held still more accountable at the ballot box, when compared to their Northern European counterparts.