Electoral Motives

A thought on how the electoral behavior is determined

Political science has included many reports, highlights, thoughts and methods which seek to analyze the electoral behavior of contemporary sociaties. The conclusions seem to be decisive electoral incentives, which are formed in view of elections.

The reward or punishment of the former government

In this category belong the voters, who voted to express their evaluation on whether the policy of the outgoing government has helped them getting better or worse economic situation and higher living standards for themselves and their families. This is about purely economic criteria, which describe a voter profile, who remains distanced from ideological and party identification issues. Also it seems that value-matters are not a determining factor in the vote.

The ideological position

The term ideology is generic and refers to the set of ideas that a man has. In this category we observe that political belief leads to partisan choice. The voters in that category will vote for the party that believes that is inspired by the same ideas and that this party, when in power, will aim to implement them.

These are positions on politics, economy, society, the country’s external relations, education and culture. The election motive of ideology differs from the first category, and while, here, the economy is part of the broader ideological framework, in the first category, the successful management of the economy is the most important indicator of the vote direction.

While the economic policy management in the second category, is associated with social factors, the vote in the first category, is determined only in the direction of reward or punishment. Simply put for the first category, if the answer is negative to the question, if my life has been improved, the vote will go to an alternate party option. In the second category, in the end the final ideological image is verified, even if on certain issues, the thoughts are divergent.

Client networks

These are social phenomena, which put the party in place of personal service and voters in the position of “clients” who “buy” these personal services by voting themselves. As clientelism is characterized powerful and efficient, the vote does not seem to be capable of upsetting. Usually clientelistic networks collapse in situations of economic crisis, when the parties are not able to provide additional “favors” to ensure the vote. In these critical cases, where do the votes go? Here, we may see the search for a new “client housing” or the vote in extremist parties, which is translated as a vote of anger, when the security is lost.

The party identification

It is a tradition, which refers to earlier decades when education and developed economy was not given situations for the majority of the electorate. Its existence is mainly based on emotional causes, and the particular elector is unable easily to grasp government mistakes or failures. These voters, usually develop football fan culture with ideas and the electorate’s leading opponent.

These electoral motives began to be examined through the prism of the creation of an expanded middle area from the 1970s onwards. It was observed that the majority of the electorate was not citizens or people that could comfortably position themselves along the left-right scale. These people earn middle-income, they were more educated than in the past and to some extent they are non-ideologized. Essentially this particular middle political force has reduced the significance of electoral motives of the second and fourth category, while to some extent, even adopting a more cynical view, increased the influence of the first and the third category.

This makes increasingly difficult to predict the election result. The parties in power have to adopt loose positions in value-issues, avoiding to take direct positions particularly in matters which would create controversial reactions in the middle area.

The parties in power have to adopt positions on the economy likely to distance themselves from the fierce liberalism and intense statism, to form an enlarged fan of government program. However addressing the specific situation with blinders deprives the parties of power reflexes to understand how value-issues could affect the social sense and to lead to removal of voting.

In times of reduced dynamics and rate of two-party system, small, usually new political parties, which are in the middle or in the extremes of the partisan axis, could cause political fear and rivalry to the incumbent large parties, if the smaller ones can express successfully intense and popular social issues, like immigration or the separation of state and church.

The vote is not granted. The cause for this situation wad the strong programmatic convergence of center-right and center-left parties, which overlapped each difference and led to a convergent two-party system, which beyond any doubt left margins for new parties, usually more extreme.

Veni Mouzakiari
Veni Mouzakiari
Phd Candidate at the department of International and European Studies, University of Macedonia. Political consultant