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Giving more weight to preferential votes: welcome or superfluous reform? The case of the local elections in Flanders (Belgium)

Bram Wauters UGent, Dries Verlet and Johan Ackaert (2012) LOCAL GOVERNMENT STUDIES. 38(1). p.91-111
abstract
In response to a crisis of representative democracy in many Western countries, (local) governments have introduced instruments to circumvent political parties in order to establish more direct links between citizens and governments. One of these instruments is rendering electoral systems more personal, that is by giving more weight to preferential voting. Preferential voting is important since it constitutes a major element of the personal vote and it determines whether parties or voters are the main decision-makers in designating representatives. We have investigated, in relation to the local elections in Flanders (Belgium), in what kind of municipalities voters are most likely to cast a preferential vote, whether the electoral reform granting voters more power has had an effect, and if it has had an effect, in what kind of municipalities. We have put forward five groups of explanatory variables: socio-demographic, political, social capital, geographic and ballot form variables. Our analysis shows that variables from each group correlate significantly with the percentage of preferential votes, with population density and electronic voting as most important variables. A comparison between the 1994 and 2006 elections often yields the reverse picture: characteristics of municipalities that have a positive effect on the percentage of preferential votes cast have a negative impact on the evolution of preferential voting and vice versa (electronic voting being an exception). This results in the only obvious effects of the electoral reform being seen in urban municipalities, because elsewhere local politics was already to a large extent personalised by politicians being locally known. We could conclude that in these rural municipalities the electoral reform was superfluous.
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
year
type
journalArticle (original)
publication status
published
subject
keyword
ELECTORAL SYSTEMS, CANDIDATES, PARTIES, Elections, political parties, personal vote, participation, Belgium
journal title
LOCAL GOVERNMENT STUDIES
Local Gov. Stud.
volume
38
issue
1
pages
91 - 111
Web of Science type
Article
Web of Science id
000302293400005
JCR category
POLITICAL SCIENCE
JCR impact factor
0.69 (2012)
JCR rank
78/157 (2012)
JCR quartile
2 (2012)
ISSN
0300-3930
DOI
10.1080/03003930.2011.629193
language
English
UGent publication?
yes
classification
A1
copyright statement
I have transferred the copyright for this publication to the publisher
id
2988817
handle
http://hdl.handle.net/1854/LU-2988817
date created
2012-09-18 14:47:35
date last changed
2015-06-17 10:14:40
@article{2988817,
  abstract     = {In response to a crisis of representative democracy in many Western countries, (local) governments have introduced instruments to circumvent political parties in order to establish more direct links between citizens and governments. One of these instruments is rendering electoral systems more personal, that is by giving more weight to preferential voting. Preferential voting is important since it constitutes a major element of the personal vote and it determines whether parties or voters are the main decision-makers in designating representatives. We have investigated, in relation to the local elections in Flanders (Belgium), in what kind of municipalities voters are most likely to cast a preferential vote, whether the electoral reform granting voters more power has had an effect, and if it has had an effect, in what kind of municipalities. We have put forward five groups of explanatory variables: socio-demographic, political, social capital, geographic and ballot form variables. Our analysis shows that variables from each group correlate significantly with the percentage of preferential votes, with population density and electronic voting as most important variables. A comparison between the 1994 and 2006 elections often yields the reverse picture: characteristics of municipalities that have a positive effect on the percentage of preferential votes cast have a negative impact on the evolution of preferential voting and vice versa (electronic voting being an exception). This results in the only obvious effects of the electoral reform being seen in urban municipalities, because elsewhere local politics was already to a large extent personalised by politicians being locally known. We could conclude that in these rural municipalities the electoral reform was superfluous.},
  author       = {Wauters, Bram and Verlet, Dries and Ackaert, Johan},
  issn         = {0300-3930},
  journal      = {LOCAL GOVERNMENT STUDIES},
  keyword      = {ELECTORAL SYSTEMS,CANDIDATES,PARTIES,Elections,political parties,personal vote,participation,Belgium},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1},
  pages        = {91--111},
  title        = {Giving more weight to preferential votes: welcome or superfluous reform? The case of the local elections in Flanders (Belgium)},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03003930.2011.629193},
  volume       = {38},
  year         = {2012},
}

Chicago
Wauters, Bram, Dries Verlet, and Johan Ackaert. 2012. “Giving More Weight to Preferential Votes: Welcome or Superfluous Reform? The Case of the Local Elections in Flanders (Belgium).” Local Government Studies 38 (1): 91–111.
APA
Wauters, B., Verlet, D., & Ackaert, J. (2012). Giving more weight to preferential votes: welcome or superfluous reform? The case of the local elections in Flanders (Belgium). LOCAL GOVERNMENT STUDIES, 38(1), 91–111.
Vancouver
1.
Wauters B, Verlet D, Ackaert J. Giving more weight to preferential votes: welcome or superfluous reform? The case of the local elections in Flanders (Belgium). LOCAL GOVERNMENT STUDIES. 2012;38(1):91–111.
MLA
Wauters, Bram, Dries Verlet, and Johan Ackaert. “Giving More Weight to Preferential Votes: Welcome or Superfluous Reform? The Case of the Local Elections in Flanders (Belgium).” LOCAL GOVERNMENT STUDIES 38.1 (2012): 91–111. Print.