Rowman and Littlefield International
Coping with Complexity

Coping with Complexity

How Voters Adapt to Unstable Parties

By Dani Marinova

Publication Date: Jul 2016

Pages 170

ECPR Press

Hardback 9781785521515
£50.00 €70.00 $80.00
Ebook 9781785521966
£28.50 €39.00 $43.50
Paperback 9781785522604
£30.00 €41.00 $46.00

When parties undergo abrupt organisational changes between elections – such as when they fuse, split, join or abandon party lists – they alter profoundly the organisation and supply of electoral information to voters. The alternatives on the ballot are no longer fixed but need to be actively sought out instead. This book examines how voters cope with the complexity triggered by party instability. Breaking with previous literature, it suggests that voters are versatile and ingenious decision-makers. They adapt to informational complexity with a set of cognitively less costly heuristics uniquely suited to the challenges they face. A closer look at the impact of party instability on the vote advances and qualifies quintessential theories of vote choice, including proximity voting, direction-intensity appeals, economic voting and the use of cognitive heuristics. The rich and nuanced findings illustrate that political parties hold a key to understanding voter behaviour and representation in modern democracy.

Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables ix

List of Abbreviations xi

Acknowledgements xiii

Chapter One – Coping with Complexity: Introduction to the

Research Problem 1

Chapter Two – Voting in Complex Information Environments:

A Theoretical Framework 13

Chapter Three – Electoral Instability in Parties: Concept,

Measurement and Dynamics 31

Chapter Four – Seeking Information: Voter Knowledge of

Party Positions 45

Chapter Five – Heuristics for Unstable Parties: How Voters Cope 61

Chapter Six – Judging Competence: The Economic Vote 83

Chapter Seven – Conclusion: A New Look at Old Theories 103

Appendix: Party Instability Data 115

Appendix to Chapter Four 121

Appendix to Chapter Six 125

Appendix: Party Names 131

Bibliography 135

Index 151

Dani Marinova is Juan de la Cierva Fellow at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. She completed a PhD in Political Science at Indiana University in 2012. She studies how political and economic contexts condition citizens' electoral behaviour and in turn shape democratic representation. Her research has appeared in Acta Politica, Democratization, Perspectives on Politics, Political Behavior and Political Science Research and Methods.

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