This CD-ROM contains the election results of 18 Western European
countries from the nineteenth century until the last published election
by 1999. The earliest election collected is the 1815 Norwegian election.
Results have been collected at the level of the single constituencies.
The information collected concerns the electorate, actual voters, and votes
for single parties or candidates and is available in absolute figures and
percentages (percentage distribution of votes by parties and percentage
distribution of party votes by constituencies). A complete documentation
accompanies the collection as described below. The documentation can be
accessed on CD-ROM.
This CD-ROM supplements the handbook which users are advised to consult
while using the CD-ROM. The handbook is structured in two main parts. Part
I includes three comparative chapters on the development of elections in
Europe and on the territorial structure of the vote. Part II contains 18
country chapters which give details on the evolution of electoral systems,
on the organization of constituencies, dates of elections, political parties,
and the available sources on election results.
Countries. The countries included in this collection are the following:
Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland,
Italy, Luxemburg, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland
and United Kingdom (which includes Britain and Ireland for 1832-1918 and
Britain and Northern Ireland since 1922).
Time. The period of time covered by results files varies from country
to country according to their historical development and the available sources.
Austria: 1873, Belgium: 1848, Denmark: 1848, Finland: 1907, France: 1910,
Germany: 1871, Greece: 1926, Iceland: 1874, Ireland: 1922 (under UK for
1832-1918), Italy: 1861, Luxemburg: 1919, Netherlands: 1888, Norway: 1815,
Portugal: 1975, Spain: 1977, Sweden: 1866, Switzerland: 1848, United Kingdom:
Elections. The collection includes results of national legislative
elections for the lower houses of parliament also in case of partial elections
(for example, the renewal by half of the lower houses in Belgium and Luxemburg).
The collection does not include the results of elections to regional, provincial,
or communal bodies; referenda and other types of direct democracy vote;
elections to senates, houses of regional representation or chambers of higher
estates; or by-elections.
Levels of aggregation. Results have been collected at the level of
constituencies. For example, Wahlkreise in Germany, parliamentary
constituencies in the United Kingdom, valkretsar in Sweden, círculos
eleitorais in Portugal, cantons in Switzerland and so on. In some cases,
data are available at more precise levels (for example, the provinces in
Italy). The level of the constituencies is only one of the many levels of
aggregation of the data provided by this collection. For each country several
possibilities of aggregating results into larger regions or administrative
units exist, offering the possibility to combine election results with a
large amount of other types of information and datasets.
Parties. Political parties have been selected when they poll at least
five per cent of the total nation-wide vote or at least five per cent of
the vote within at least one constituency.
Sources. Data have been collected mainly from official sources. In
many cases, especially for the earlier periods, only secondary sources were
available. The list of sources contains both types of sources for each country.
Types of information
Two main types of information can be found on this CD-ROM: 1) data, that
is, election results; and 2) the documentation.
Data have been completely computerized and standardized. The standardization
of the information and the general solutions adopted for specific problems
(for example, uncontested constituencies, missing data, etc.) allow for
broad comparisons across countries and historical periods. On the CD-ROM
data are available in full in different forms to provide users with a
large range of options to read and use the data.
The basic files contain election results by constituencies. Results
are available in different types of figures: 1) absolute figures
by constituencies, 2) distribution of votes by parties (percentages),
and 3) parties’ vote distribution by constituencies or other units (percentages).
All this information is available in three computerized formats:
Finally, the data are available in three main different file structures:
- horizontal structure (election years and parties as variables and
constituencies as cases),
- vertical structure (the basic cases are parties by constituencies
and election years), and
- mixed structure (variables are election years and cases are parties
A thorough documentation accompanies the data. Two types of documentation
1. Institutional context information
For each country the general documentation concerns the seven following
||evolution of electoral laws: displays schematically the main
changes in electoral systems over the period of time covered by the
||dates and type of elections are given (general election,
election to constituent assembly, etc.);
||evolution of party systems: displays in the form of 'trees'
the continuity of party systems;
||codes for political parties: names, changes of names, splits,
and mergers of political parties are indicated with the codes used
in the files;
||levels of aggregation: informs users about the available
levels of aggregation of the data and the continuity of the constituencies
||codes for constituencies: gives for each file the list of
constituencies and the codes used in the result files as well as the
possibilities of aggregating the data at higher levels;
||list of sources (official and secondary).
2. File documentation
General rules for data organization
The following describes the general principles for data organization.
These rules are general and apply to all files and countries. They concern:
Missing values and national totals. Throughout the
files three types of missing values are distinguished:
||Information not available: contested elections have taken
place, but the results have not been reported;
||Category not applicable: categories are included for technical
reasons (mixed and horizontal file structures) only. Examples are
births and deaths of constituencies, partial elections (constituencies
are included in the file for technical reasons, although no elections
have taken place), and regionally limited presence of parties;
||Uncontested constituencies: this means that only one candidate
is present in a constituency and the winner is declared without an
election. A special code indicates such constituencies (see table
below for the codes in the different programs).
Figures of total valid votes are in most cases based on the original
sources. When these figures were not given by available sources, the total
number of valid votes has been computed on the basis of party votes. If
among party votes some are missing, the total number of valid votes includes
only known information. The percentage of the parties' strength for which
information is known is, in these cases, overestimated.
Elections are grouped into files covering a period of time which varies
according to the main changes of constituencies. For example, in Belgium
elections are subdivided into three files (for 1847–98 with 41 constituencies;
for 1900–91 with 30 constituencies, and for 1995 with 20 constituencies).
The codes given to the constituencies and other territorial units
are specific to the files. Constituencies with the same name
can therefore have different codes in the different periods (files).
Users must therefore attentively consult the documentation of constituencies
and levels of aggregation before building time series.