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What Moves Political Ideology? An Economic Analysis of Electoral Volatility in France Since 1889


  • François Facchini
  • Mickaël Melki


The theory of economic voting has extensively explored the influence of national economic conditions on votes for the incumbent party during elections. Such literature has never, however, explored the potential effects of economy on other types of voting swings in the sense of change in votes for non-governing parties. This is owed to the limitations of the theory of economic voting, which we attempt to remedy by suggesting a more comprehensive theoretical framework based on ideological voting. From an empirical point of view, investigating the total electoral volatility appears an appropriate means to test the determinants of the votes for all parties. Using time-series data on 46 democratic elections held in France from 1889 to 2011, we provide evidence that the total electoral volatility has been determined by specific economic determinants that differ from the ones influencing the vote share of the incumbent. Another finding is that the voters’ punishment of the incumbent at the heart of the theory of economic voting explains only a marginal part of total electoral volatility.

Suggested Citation

  • François Facchini & Mickaël Melki, 2013. "What Moves Political Ideology? An Economic Analysis of Electoral Volatility in France Since 1889," CESifo Working Paper Series 4171, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_4171

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    electoral volatility; economic voting; ideology; justification cost;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior


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