A Theory of Referendum Behaviour

Sara Binzer Hobolt

in Europe in Question

Published in print May 2009 | ISBN: 9780199549948
Published online May 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191720451 | DOI:
A Theory of Referendum Behaviour

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This chapter lays out a theoretical framework for understanding referendum behaviour. The core component of the theory is a model of voting behaviour, which outlines how attitudes shape vote choices, influenced by the information that voters receive from political parties and other elites. The framework highlights first that differences in political interest among individuals also lead to diverse patterns of voting behaviour and second, that the campaign context shapes electoral outcomes. Politically aware voters base their vote choice on more sophisticated decision criteria and intense campaigns lead to more issue voting. These two aspects of referendum behaviour ‐ individual‐level differences and campaign effects ‐ are examined in a comparative analysis of EU referendums in the subsequent chapters.

Keywords: campaign; Downs; information; issue voting; political awareness; proximity model; uncertainty; reversion point; spatial models; voting behaviour

Chapter.  15442 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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