The True European Voter: A Strategy for Analysing the Prospects of European Electoral Democracy that Includes the West, the South and the East of the Continent (TEV)
For large-scale democracies, general elections are the ultimate link between societal interests and demands on the one hand, and governmental action on the other. In contemporary Europe, this link – the 'electoral connection' – is experiencing a number of threats. One is the European unification process itself due to its inherent diminution of political accountability. Another threat is a far reaching ideological depolarization of electoral choice options. A third results from the changes of European political parties over the last decades. Finally, effective political representation in post-communist societies is threatened by the legacies of communism. Due to diversities in the institutional make-up, socio-political development and recent history, these threats manifest themselves differently in different parts of Europe. Building on the achievements of the earlier European Voter project, this COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) Action harmonized and integrated the available representative post-electoral cross-sectional surveys in most of Europe in order to advance our knowledge of the imperfections of European electoral democracy. This was done by a network of scholars who collectively have built the necessary database for a comprehensive multilevel analysis of these threats. To promote the quality and robustness of the output of the project, a strong emphasis was put on providing training opportunities for young scholars.
A unique database has been prepared and is currently undergoing a final check involving the correction of coding errors and the like. In addition, an edited volume is finally taking shape. A set of semi-final book chapters is being revised and will be submitted to a publisher in the course of 2016. The central finding of the enterprise is that the context of the vote indeed matters, that the factors affecting voting decisions are different in different stages of political polarisation, economic performance, under different institutional arrangements (including EU multilevel governance), and so on. After the manuscript is out, we will also publish the database (plus documentation) at the GESIS Archiv.