Citizens, Context, and Choice: How Context Shapes Citizens' Electoral Choices

Russell J. Dalton*, Christopher J. Anderson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


A large body of electoral studies and political party research argues that the institutional context defines incentives that shape citizen participation and voting choice. Based on the unique resources of the Comparative Study of Electoral System surveys, this volume provides the first systematic comparative analysis of how and why cross-national differences in political institutions and party systems shape individual citizens' attitudes and political behavior, including voter turnout, campaign participation, and vote choice. An international team of electoral scholars finds that countries' formal institutional characteristics and party systems have only a modest impact on citizen political choices compared to individual level factors. Furthermore, the formal institutional characteristics of electoral system that have been most emphasized by electoral studies researchers have less impact than characteristics of the party system that are separate from formal institutions. Advanced multilevel analyses demonstrate that contextual effects are more often indirect and interactive, and thus their effects are typically not apparent in single nation election studies. The results have the potential to reshape our understanding of how the institutional framework and context of election matters, and the limits of institutional design in shaping citizen electoral behavior.

Original languageEnglish
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages320
ISBN (Electronic)9780191595790
ISBN (Print)9780199599233
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes


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