Annual Conference of the Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA) location:Chicago date:11-14 April 2013
Both party switching and abstaining from voting have increased over the past few decades in modern democracies worldwide. As such, both switching and abstaining can be considered consequences of a process of dealignment. Furthermore, striking similarities exist in the literatures on volatility and abstention. Despite these indications of a strong link between switching parties and abstaining from voting as options for voters, both phenomena have only rarely been looked at simultaneously. In this paper we address this gap in the literature by investigating the determinants of voters switching parties and voters abstaining from voting as opposed to voters remaining loyal to their party. We do so making use of data from the second and third modules of CSES (2001-2010). Results indicate that while the middle sophisticated are most likely to switch parties, the probability to abstain from voting is highest among the least sophisticated. Furthermore, both switching and abstaining can be considered expressions of political disaffection. The institutional and political context, then, mainly affects the probability that voters will abstain from voting and less so the probability of party switching.