Institutions and Voters: Structuring Electoral Choice

  • Robert Elgie
Part of the French Politics, Society and Culture Series book series (FPSC)


In recent years the study of institutions has very much come into vogue (March and Olsen, 1984). In this regard, the study of voting behaviour is no exception. In their path-breaking article, Powell and Whitten (1993) argued that greater attention needed to be paid “to the electoral context in which citizens choose and the policymaking context within which they evaluate the performance of incumbents” (Ibid.: 392). While previous studies had hinted at the need to be sensitive to the institutional context as a determinant of the vote (see Lewis-Beck, 1980: 318), Powell and Whitten’s study showed very clearly how institutions intervene in the relationship between economic performance and voting behaviour. What is more, this work has been replicated and the findings confirmed. Whitten and Palmer (1999) refined and extended the cross-national study to include 142 elections. At the national level, the finding has also been confirmed. In the French case, Lewis-Beck and Chlarson (2002) have demonstrated that the relative impact of ideological orientation and party identification varies across the two ballots of the presidential election, while Lewis-Beck (1997a,b) and Lewis-Beck and Nadeau (2000) have shown that cohabitation affects the magnitude and target of the economic vote in the French system.


Prime Minister Presidential Election Vote Behaviour Institutional Variable Party Identification 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Elgie

There are no affiliations available

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