Liran Harsgor, Reut Itzkovitch-Malka, Or Tuttnauer
Do coalition and formateur expectations affect vote switching?

European Political Science Review, 2023: 15, Heft 1, S. 96–115
ISSN: 1755-7739 (print), 1755-7747 (online)

The existing literature on vote switching – a major cause of electoral change – rarely discusses strategic incentives as motivating voters to switch parties between elections. We study how coalition-directed voting, a common type of strategic voting in parliamentary democracies, affects vote switching. Utilizing an original three-wave online panel survey conducted in Israel in 2019–2020, we show that voters engage in formateur optimization and policy balancing: they switch their vote in order to affect the identity of the next formateur and desert a party they previously voted for if they believe it will not enter the next coalition. We also show that the perceived level of competition between potential formateurs moderates the effect of coalition expectations on vote switching. The paper highlights the importance of coalition and formateur considerations in electoral change and contributes to a better understanding of both coalition-directed voting and individual-level vote switching.