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The Rise of Negative Voting

English title The Rise of Negative Voting
Applicant Garzia Diego
Number 186898
Funding scheme Eccellenza
Research institution Institut d'études politiques IEP Faculté des sciences sociales et politiques Université de Lausanne
Institution of higher education University of Lausanne - LA
Main discipline Political science
Start/End 01.01.2020 - 31.12.2024
Approved amount 1'764'667.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Political science
Communication sciences

Keywords (5)

Comparative Political Behavior; Media Effects; National Election Studies; Negative Personalization; Negative Partisanship

Lay Summary (Italian)

La fiducia degli elettori nei partiti politici e nei loro leader è in declino in tutto il mondo occidentale. Quali sono le conseguenze di questo sviluppo a livello elettorale? E' ipotizzabile che sempre piu' elettori si presentino alle urne principalmente (se non esclusivamente) per esprimere un "voto negativo"?
Lay summary

L'obiettivo principale di questo progetto è offrire una valutazione comparativa e longitudinale delle determinanti del «voto negativo», il suo impatto sui modelli di comportamento elettorale a livello individuale e considerare le possibili implicazioni per la democrazia rappresentativa. Le domande di ricerca principali sono le seguenti:  Quali sono le cause degli atteggiamenti verso i partiti e i loro leader alla base del voto negativo? E quali sono gli effetti di tali atteggiamenti negativi sui modelli di partecipazione elettorale e di scelta di voto?

A livello teorico, questo progetto collega gli studi elettorali con la ricerca sulla comunicazione politica esplorando la connessione tra il voto negativo e i pattern di esposizione all'informazione politica tra vecchi e nuovi media. Il quadro metodologico combina un set di dati di «national election studies» raccolti nelle democrazie parlamentari occidentali tra il 1960 ed il 2020, ed un nuovo dataset panel affrontare questioni di comparabilità e causalità.

Un'analisi sistematica delle cause e delle dinamiche elettorali del voto negativo a livello individuale fornirà approfondimenti su quali segmenti dell'elettorato sono più inclini a basare le loro scelte di voto su considerazioni negative. Tale analisi rappresenta un'aggiunta chiave alla nostra comprensione delle elezioni democratiche in tempi caratterizzati da elevata volatilità elettorale diffusione di forze politiche populiste attraverso l’intero continente europeo.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 10.12.2019

Responsible applicant and co-applicants



Comparative analyses describe a long-term trend showing increasing distrust in political parties and party leaders across the Western world. This appears to be driven by the voters’ tendency to emotionally distance themselves from the party they support while increasingly disliking parties and candidates they do not support. Early literature repeatedly referred to negativity biases in voters’ choice-voters can cast a ballot “against” rather than “for” candidates. However, this claim has only very seldom been tested empirically outside the United States. This project’s major aim is to offer a comprehensive (comparative and longitudinal) assessment of the drivers of negative voting, its impact on individual-level patterns of electoral behavior, and consider about the possible implications for democratic politics.The theoretical framework departs from the intuition that an increasingly confrontational style of campaigning and political communication-and the rise of negative identifications in a context of partisan dealignment and strong political personalization-could all be driving a distinctive form of negatively-driven voting behavior. Three broad research questions emerge in this context: What are the drivers of negativity in voters’ attitudes toward parties and party leaders? What are the effects of negativity on patterns of electoral participation and party choice? Has the impact of negativity on voting behavior increased across time?This project offers several theoretical and methodological innovations. Theoretically, it contributes to the growing literature on negative partisanship by bridging it with the relatively underdeveloped topic of negative personalization. Furthermore, it links electoral studies with political communication research by exploring the connection between negative voting and patterns of exposure to political information in old and new media. The methodological framework combines existing national election study datasets from established parliamentary democracies for longitudinal comparisons, and a novel multi-country panel dataset to address issues of comparability and causality. The latter will consist of four integrated pre- and post-election surveys to be administered to nationally representative samples of French, German, Italian and Swiss voters in forthcoming national elections (2021-2023). The study questionnaires will all feature standard items from traditional survey practice and will be complemented by three batteries previously unavailable in comparative datasets, tapping in turn: (i) negative attitudes toward parties and leaders; (ii) exposure to political information channels offline and online; (iii) exposure to political information and patterns of political activity on social media.In times of growing electoral instability, it is crucial to scrutinize the determinants of change where it occurs: at the level of individual voters. A systematic analysis of the causes and the electoral dynamics of negative voting at the micro-level will provide insights into which segments of the electorate are more prone to base their vote choices on negative considerations. Such an analysis can be a key addition to our understanding of democratic elections in times characterized by partisan dealignment, high volatility and widespread rise of populist forces across the whole continent. Therefore, the proposed research project is not only timely, but will shed much-need light on the current, rapidly changing socio-political environment.