Voter Competence: What do Voters Need to Know?

Sara Binzer Hobolt

in Europe in Question

Published in print May 2009 | ISBN: 9780199549948
Published online May 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191720451 | DOI:
Voter Competence: What do Voters Need to Know?

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What do voters need to know? That is the question examined in this chapter which explores voting behaviour in EU referendums from a normative perspective by considering the issue of voter competence. The main argument put forward in the chapter is that that competent voting in EU referendums is based on issue‐specific preferences and requires political knowledge, but not necessarily high levels of factual political information, since information short‐cuts such as party cues can act as substitutes for detailed information. These theoretical questions are evaluated empirically in an analysis of the 1994 Norwegian referendum on EU membership. This case study reveals that most citizens can vote ‘competently’ by relying on the recommendations of political parties, although it does not follow that voters necessarily adhere to this advice.

Keywords: accession; cues; direct democracy; heuristics; information; knowledge; membership; Norway; party competition; political parties; voter competence

Chapter.  9294 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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