Ruth Dassonneville's research while affiliated with Université de Montréal and other places

Publications (94)

Article
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Party membership is in decline across the established democracies, but populist parties appear to be reversing this trend. The expansion of populist parties’ membership base raises the question whether these parties are fulfilling their role as actors who serve as a “corrective to democracy” by mobilizing the socially and politically marginalized t...
Article
Female politicians are assumed to suffer from gender bias in the political arena but existing research finds little evidence of an electoral cost to being a female candidate. Existing studies, however, have focused mostly on candidates, not leaders for top political office. Also, most evidence on this topic comes from a small number of countries. U...
Article
In most established democracies, trends in political trust in recent decades have fluctuated, but have not declined strongly. Citizens’ democratic attitudes in many countries have even proven to be resilient in the face of the Great Recession. Such trends contrast sharply with the observation of a gradual and continued decline of Australian’s trust...
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Citizens who voted for a party that won the election are more satisfied with democracy than those who did not. This winner–loser gap has recently been found to vary with the quality of electoral democracy: the higher the quality of democracy, the smaller the gap. However, we do not know what drives this relationship. Is it driven by losers, winners...
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Studies of citizens' compliance with COVID-19 preventive measures routinely rely on survey data. While such data are essential, public health restrictions provide clear signals of what is socially desirable in this context, creating a potential source of response bias in self-reported measures of compliance. In this research, we examine whether the...
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The COVID-19 public health pandemic has seen governments spend trillions of dollars to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus as well as to soften the economic blow from the shutting down of national economies. Subsequent budget shortfalls raise the question of how governments will pay for the direct and indirect costs associated with the COVID-19...
Article
The process of European integration, through institutions such as the European Union, the Eurozone, or Schengen, implies a shift in political decision-making away from the national governments and towards international institutions. This gradual shift in the balance of power, furthermore, is increasingly debated by citizens. As a result, European i...
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The rise of populist radical right parties fuels a discussion about the roots of their success. Existing research has demonstrated the relevance of gender, education and income for explaining the far-right vote. The present study contributes to the aforementioned debate by focusing on the role of religiosity. The data collected in the eighth round...
Article
Civic duty has been perceived as a key determinant of turnout. That is, while dutiful citizens turn out in large numbers, those who conceive of voting as a choice do less so. The strong correlation between civic duty and turnout might be due to reverse causation, however. Specifically, individuals might adapt their sense of duty according to previo...
Article
Political parties are key actors in electoral democracies: they organize the legislature, form governments, and citizens choose their representatives by voting for them. How citizens evaluate political parties and how well the parties that citizens evaluate positively perform thus provide useful tools to estimate the quality of representation from...
Preprint
Full-text available
Studies of citizens’ compliance with COVID-19 preventive measures routinely rely on survey data. While essential, public health restrictions provide clear signals of what is socially desirable in this context, creating a potential source of response bias in self-reported measures of compliance. In this research, we examine whether the results of a...
Article
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The unequal burden from the COVID-19 crisis (e.g., in terms of infection and death rates) across Canadian provinces is important and puzzling. Some have speculated that differences in levels of citizen compliance with public health preventive measures are central to understanding cross-provincial differences in pandemic-related health outcomes. How...
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A close connection between public opinion and policy is considered a vital element of democracy. In representative systems, elections are assumed to play a role in realising such congruence. If those who participate in elections are not representative of the public at large, it follows that the reliance on elections as a mechanism of representation...
Chapter
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This chapter examines the relationship between voter turnout and political inequality. It investigates which groups are less (more) likely to vote, whether these groups are less (better) represented in Parliament, and whether their interests and values are less (better) defended in the actual policies that are adopted and implemented by governments...
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The extent to which citizens comply with newly-enacted public health measures such as social distancing or lockdowns strongly affects the propagation of the virus and the number of deaths from COVID-19. It is however very difficult to identify non-compliance through survey research because claiming to follow the rules is socially desirable. Using t...
Preprint
Full-text available
The extent to which citizens comply with newly-enacted public health measures such as social distancing or lockdowns strongly affects the propagation of the virus and the number of deaths from COVID-19. It is however very difficult to identify non-compliance through survey research because claiming to follow the rules is socially desirable. Using t...
Article
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Past research on the relationship between income inequality and turnout has produced mixed results, with some studies suggesting that income inequality leads to lower turnout while other studies find little or no significant effects. In this article, we investigate the extent to which these mixed results are due to the contingent nature of inequali...
Article
While youth suffrage is widely debated, the causal effects of being eligible to vote on adolescents' political attitudes are less well known. To gain insights into this question, we leverage data from a real-life quasi-experiment of voting at 16 in the city of Ghent (Belgium). We compare the attitudes of adolescents that were entitled to vote with...
Article
Different people have different views about what elected representatives should do in a democracy. Some people think legislators should follow their own conscience (personal view), others think they should do what the majority of citizens in their constituency want (view of the constituency), and yet others think they should do what they promised d...
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Recent publications argue that the traditional gender gap in voting has decreased or reversed in many democracies. However, this decrease may apply only to some types of elections. Building on prior studies, this article hypothesizes that although women participate at the same or higher rates than men in national elections, they participate less in...
Article
When asked to place themselves on a left‐right scale, men and women tend to take different positions. Over time, however ideological gender differences have taken a different form. While women were traditionally more right‐leaning than men, from around the mid 1990s onwards they have been found to take positions to the left of men. Using an origina...
Article
Although the theory of retrospective voting receives wide support in the literature on voting behaviour,less agreement exists on voters’time horizon when assessing the government’s performance – that is,whether voters are myopic. Previous studies on voter myopia tend to focus on aggregate-level measures of the economy,or use an experimental approac...
Article
In recent years, there has been considerable scholarly interest in inequalities in representation between rich and poor citizens. Just over 20 years ago, Lijphart argued that compulsory voting could reduce such inequalities by boosting the turnout of the poor. We measure the efficacy of Lijphart’s proposal with regard to three measures of represent...
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Government cohesiveness is known to moderate retrospective voting. While previous work on this topic has focused on characteristics of the government, we build on the literature on clarity of responsibility and the literature on valence to argue that the extent to which government and opposition are ideologically distinct also moderates retrospecti...
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Economic growth helps governments get re-elected. But does growth, as a valence issue, exhaust the possibilities for the economic vote? This paper shows, via an examination of 318 elections in established democracies, across time and space, that growth and inequality both matter for incumbent government support. Somewhat surprisingly, it is found t...
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Do Voters Benchmark Economic Performance? - Vincent Arel-Bundock, André Blais, Ruth Dassonneville
Article
Changes in voters' behavior and in the campaign strategies that political parties pursue are likely to have increased the importance of campaigns on voters' electoral choices. As a result, scholars increasingly question the usefulness and predictive power of structural forecasting models, that use information from “fundamental” variables to make an...
Article
A well-functioning democracy requires citizens’ support for its political institutions and procedures. While scholars have previously studied the role of contextual factors for explaining satisfaction with democracy, a rigorous focus on how the party choice set affects how satisfied citizens are with democracy is largely absent from the literature....
Article
According to democratic theory, policy responsiveness is a key characteristic of democratic government: citizens’ preferences should affect policy outcomes. Empirically, however, the connection between public opinion and policy is not self-evident and is increasingly challenged. Using an originally constructed data set with information from 21 Orga...
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Political theorists have argued that democracies should strive for high turnout, leading to an argument for the introduction of compulsory voting, one of the surest ways to increase turnout. Others have warned that this obligation comes at a cost of lower quality votes. We investigate these claims by examining the impact of compulsory voting on pro...
Article
According to spatial theories of voting, voters choose parties that are ideologically close to themselves. A rich literature confirms the presence of a close connection between the positions of voters and parties, but findings from cross-sectional analyses of spatial voting might be driven by endogeneity biases. We argue that for investigating the...
Article
Despite a wealth of literature on the determinants of electoral turnout, little is known about the cost of voting. Some studies suggest that facilitating voting slightly increases turnout, but what ultimately matters is people's subjective perceptions of how costly voting is. This paper offers a first comprehensive analysis of the subjective cost o...
Article
Considerable research shows the presence of an economic vote, with governments rewarded or punished by voters, depending on the state of the economy. But how stable is this economic vote? A current argument holds its effect has increased over time, because of weakening long-term social and political forces. Under these conditions, short-term forces...
Article
Scholars of electoral behaviour regularly link political dissatisfaction to two types of behaviour: voting for populist parties and unstable voting behaviour. It is therefore not surprising that the electorates of populist parties are generally assumed to be rather volatile. In this article, we argue that this is not necessarily the case – in parti...
Article
The literature on electoral volatility and the literature on electoral campaigns hold contradictory views on voters switching vote (intention) during the campaign. In this note, we shed new light on this contradiction, making two contributions. First, we investigate the extent to which stable and volatile voters choose the correct party. Second, we...
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National probability election surveys are more and more abandoned. Decreasing response rates and the escalating costs of face-to-face and telephone interviews have strengthened election scholars’ reliance on nonprobability internet samples to conduct election surveys online. In a number of countries, experiments with alternative ways of recruiting...
Preprint
The conventional theory of economic voting is that voters reward or punish the incumbent government based on how the domestic economy is doing. Recently, scholars have challenged that view, arguing that voters use relative assessments to gauge government performance. From this perspective, what matters is not how well the national economy is doing...
Article
The campaign leading to the 2016 US presidential election included a number of unconventional forms of campaign rhetoric. In earlier analyses, it was claimed that the Trump victory could be seen as a form of protest voting. This article analyzes the determinants of voters’ choices to investigate the validity of this claim. Based on a sample of the...
Article
Citizens tend to overestimate the electoral success of their preferred party. We investigate the extent to which Belgian voters overestimate the result of the party that they vote for and the factors that explain which voters do so more than others. Our focus is on the impact of educational attainment and partisan attachment on the overestimation o...
Article
Successive studies have found a persistent gender gap in political knowledge. Despite much international research, this gap has remained largely impervious to explanation. A promising line of recent inquiry has been the low levels of women's elected representation in many democracies. We test the hypothesis that higher levels of women's elected rep...
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Previous research has argued that while economic voting is quite consistently found to be an important mechanism in the rest of Canada, it is rather weak in Quebec. Guérin and Nadeau (1998) have demonstrated that whether or not citizens in Quebec vote economically depends on the party system. Following their lead, we expect that the presence of a d...
Article
For a number of decades now, scholars have been indicating that ties between citizens and parties are eroding. As a consequence, electoral behaviour has become more volatile and also more unpredictable. The consequences of this process of change on parties’ strategic behaviour have, however, received little attention. In this article, the impact of...
Article
Increasing voter volatility has led to a renewed research interest in determinants of switching party preferences. While previous research has mainly focused on the characteristics of volatile voters, less is known about how stable and volatile voters decide what party to vote for. Using panel data spanning two consecutive electoral cycles in Belgi...
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We test two assumptions of the generalized prejudice literature. First, that the structure of generalized prejudice (i.e. how prejudices are interrelated) is dependent on the intergroup context. Second, that different types of prejudice have similar political consequences and run via the generalized prejudice component. We perform these tests in th...
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Can age, period and cohort effects help explain support for Quebec sovereignty? Previous work on this question has focused mostly on the effects of age and cohort. We contribute to this debate by adding a period perspective. As such, our study is the first to investigate the impact of age, cohort and period effects in a single study of opinion towa...
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Economic voting theory assumes that on an individual level voters react to economic indicators to hold incumbents responsible for the performance of the economy. On an aggregate level, this would imply that there is an association between economic indicators and levels of volatility since voters have to switch parties if they want to punish or rewa...
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Serious election forecasting has become a routine activity in most Western democracies, with various methodologies employed, for example, polls, models, prediction markets, and citizen forecasting. In the Netherlands, however, election forecasting has limited itself to the use of polls, mainly because other approaches are viewed as too complicated,...
Article
In many established democracies, partisan attachments play a central role in guiding citizens’ attitudes as well as their political behaviour. Most importantly, partisanship has an effect on what party citizens vote for on Election Day. In general, highly politically sophisticated citizens are more likely to identify with a party compared to the le...
Article
Electoral democracies worldwide are all organised around elections but the rules under which the elections are organised differ greatly from one country to another. These electoral rules, such as whether voting is compulsory or what electoral system is used, are thought of as strongly affecting voters’ behaviour and the choices they make. If electo...
Article
Institutions are thought to matter for vote choice, and work on economic voting is exemplary in this regard. The strength of the economic vote varies considerably cross-nationally and this seems to emanate from differences in the clarity of responsibility. Still, this conceptual frame, dominant in the field, appears to have some cracks. First, almo...
Article
Democratic elections imply that the electorate holds incumbents accountable for past performance, and that voters select the party that is closest to their own political preferences. Previous research shows that both elements require political sophistication. A number of countries throughout the world have a system of compulsory voting, and this le...
Article
Turnout rates are in decline in advanced democracies, but the consequences of this trend for inequalities in participation have not yet been investigated in a large, comparative study. In this article, we investigate educational inequalities in six countries. First, we examine whether Tingsten’s law of dispersion holds and whether decreasing turnou...
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We use a quasi-experimental framework to test the conventional wisdom that left-of-center parties benefit from higher turnout by analyzing the partisan effects of the abolition of compulsory voting in the Netherlands. Fixed effects, multilevel, and matching models of party family vote shares in the Netherlands before and after the reform–and in ref...
Article
Low levels of political trust are associated with a preference for protest parties. Some authors have argued that in this manner protest parties indirectly contribute to the stability of electoral democracy, functioning as a ‘safety valve’ for political discontent. In this article, we investigate the relationship between protest voting and politica...
Article
Within the literature, there is an ongoing debate on how to understand the broader implications of the process of electoral dealignment. While some authors argue that dealignment leads to a more 'open' electorate that ponders the options offered by the party system, other authors have argued that dealignment leads to a general alienation from the p...
Article
The increase of electoral volatility in established democracies is typically interpreted as proof that short-term factors are increasingly important determinants of vote choice. The empirical evidence to support this assertion, however, is relatively weak. This paper addresses this question by investigating the impact of both long- and short-term d...
Article
Using recall questions in cross-sectional electoral survey research entails a high level of measurement error. Comparing data from Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany, we observe that recall information leads to an important underestimation of voter volatility, compared with data that are based on panel observations. While political sophisticatio...
Article
After decennia of research on economic voting, it is now established that the state of the economy affects voting behaviour. Nevertheless, this conclusion is the result of a focus on predominantly national-level economies and national-level elections. In this paper, we show that at a local level as well, mechanisms of accountability linked to the e...
Article
A defining characteristic of second-order elections is that voters base their decision on considerations that were developed for a different policy level. Therefore, this kind of elections does not contribute to the quality of democratic representation. Municipal elections are often considered as second-order elections. In this article, we use data...
Article
Previous comparative electoral studies using aggregate data indicate the importance of party-system variables, such as polarization and the number of parties, with regard to the level of volatility between two elections. Research using individual level data has shown elements, such as political knowledge, political disaffection and party identifica...
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Scientific work on national election forecasting has become most developed for the United States case, where three dominant approaches can be identified: Structuralists, Aggregators, and Synthesizers. For European cases, election forecasting models remain almost exclusively Structuralist. Here we join together structural modeling and aggregate poll...
Article
An abundance of comparative survey research argues the presence of economic voting as an individual force in European elections, thereby refuting a possible ecological fallacy. But the hypothesis of economic voting at the aggregate level, with macroeconomics influencing overall electoral outcomes, seems less sure. Indeed, there might be a micrologi...
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This article investigates the link between political sophistication and electoral volatility. Showing that there is disagreement in the literature on whether switching party preferences is related to low or high levels of political sophistication, it is then argued that the effect of sophistication on vote switching might differ depending on when s...
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The work of Russell Dalton has played a seminal role in the study of the relation between political sophistication and partisan dealignment. It has to be acknowledged furthermore that there is a consensus on the occurrence of a decline of partisanship in Germany. Using panel data as well as pooled cross-sectional observations, however, it is clear...
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Scholars have investigated the characteristics of volatile voters ever since the first voter surveys were carried out and they have paid specific attention to the role of political sophistication on vote switching. Nevertheless, the exact nature of this relationship is still unclear. With increasing volatility over the past decades this question ha...
Article
There is a strong ongoing debate about the impact of higher education experiences on political attitudes and behaviours. While some authors assume a direct socialisation effect of educational experience, others have argued that education should be seen as a mere proxy variable for socio-economic status and pre-adult socialisation experiences. In th...
Article
The economic voting literature has been dominated by the incumbency-oriented hypothesis, in which voters reward or punish governments at the ballot box according to the nation's economic performance. The alternative (policy-oriented) hypothesis, in which voters favor parties that are closest to their issue position(s), has been neglected in this li...
Article
Political behavior has been changing all over Western Europe and electoral volatility is one of the facets of politics in which this change is apparent. Theories on stabilization of political attitudes and behavior in lifetime and the slow rate at which change in the electoral arena is found to proceed, have led to the assumption of generational re...
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Within the literature there is a growing concern about lower voter turnout rates among young-age cohorts. In this article we investigate the reported willingness to vote among 72,466 14-year-old adolescents from 22 European countries, who took part in the International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS) 2009. Results indicate that the wil...
Article
Election forecasting models assume retrospective economic voting and clear mechanisms of accountability. Indeed, previous research indicates that incumbent political parties are held accountable for the state of the economy. In this article we investigate a ‘hard case’ for the assumptions of election forecasting models. Belgium is a multiparty syst...
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In this article, we investigate voter volatility and analyse the causes and motives of switching vote intentions. We test two main sets of variables linked to volatility in literature; political sophistication and political disaffection. Results show that voters with low levels of political efficacy tend to switch more often, both within a campaign...
Article
It is generally assumed that civic education efforts will have a positive effect on the political attitudes and behaviors of adolescents and young adults. In the present study, we distinguish among formal civic education, an open classroom climate, and active learning strategies, and we explore their relation with political interest, efficacy, trus...