Room C, City Hall
Time Slot: 
Wednesday 28th March 15:30 - 17:00
Panel Chair: 
  • Dr Ekaterina Kolpinskaya (Swansea University)
Panel Members: 
  • Dr Matteo Cavallaro (IEP Tolosa)
  • Mr Jamie Furlong (University of Southampton)
  • Mr Luke Mansillo (University of Sydney)
  • Professor Justin Fisher (Brunel University London)

In this panel, four papers are presented that examine different facets of the relationship between voters’ electoral choices and the party system, electoral system and campaign efforts confronting them when they go to the polls. The first two papers focus on the voting preferences of those from lower social classes and who are often suggested to have been disadvantaged by globalisation. Matteo Cavallaro and colleagues begin by examining the impact of the rise of Five Star Movement on voters’ preferences and the electoral opportunities for alternative political parties in Italian elections. They show that the Five Star Movement was successful in attracting voters from lower social classes to such an extent that they ‘crowded out’ other political parties seeking support from those groups, essentially re-drawing the relationship between social class and party support in Italian elections. Jamie Furlong’s paper also looks at the electoral preferences of those from lower social class groups, specifically those in Britain who have traditionally formed the basis of support for the Labour Party. Against the suggestion that the ‘left behind’ voters have been steadily abandoning Labour, his analysis suggests that the most disadvantaged voters in terms of health, geographic immobility and economic precocity continue to support the party.

The third paper examines the impact of the electoral system on party campaign strategies and voter choices, using the case of the 2016 Austrian Federal Election. Luke Mansillo argues that the fact that voting is compulsory in Austria, and that the electoral system employs multiple single member constituencies, forces Austrian parties to target broad coalitions of voters (as opposed to mobilising their core support) with the intention of winning as many seats as possible (rather than votes). He examines how swing voters in the Austrian election were targeted and persuaded by xenophobic messages from the Liberal-National coalition, and the geographic dispersion of voters persuaded by such a strategy.

Finally, Justin Fisher and colleagues examine the effectiveness different methods of local campaigning in UK elections. While previous research has shown that different methods of campaigning have varying degrees of success in mobilising voters, the relationship between the effectiveness of campaign methods and the underlying receptiveness of local electorates to such efforts is understudied. This paper addresses this gap and proposes that the intensity and effectiveness of local campaigning is related to the underlying level of electoral support for the party in that district or constituency, with evidence of a ‘sweet-spot’ in which the balance between underlying support and campaign effort produces the greatest success in mobilising voters.