Thomas Gschwend, Dirk Leuffen
When Voters Choose Regimes: The Issue of Cohabitation in the French Elections of 2002

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Mannheimer Zentrum für Europäische Sozialforschung: Arbeitspapiere; 63
ISSN: 1437-8574

This article analyses the impact of regime voting, i.e. when voters’ preferences for unified or divided government override their partisan and ideological preferences, on the French National Assembly elections in 2002. It investigates whether the surge of the political right in the parliamentary elections can be explained by a growing support for unified government. We find that regime voting adds explanatory power to traditional vote choice models using a multinomial logit set-up. Moreover, we find the strongest impact of regime preferences, i.e., preferences for unified or divided government, on vote choice for ideological moderates. Statistical simulations provide further evidence that regime considerations play a decisive role in the voting booth especially for voters who are not anchored politically. This research shows that besides preferences for divided government we should also account for the possibility of preferences for unified government that might override voters’ partisan and ideological preferences to more fully comprehend the process by which voters make decisions in the political realm.