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Party System Polarization and Electoral Behavior (at Oxford Research Encyclopedias, Politics)

(with Ruth Dassonneville)

When deciding whether to turn out to vote and what party to support, citizens are constrained by the available options within their party system. A rich literature shows that characteristics of this choice set, which capture how “meaningful” the choice is, have pervasive effects on electoral behavior and public opinion. Party system polarization in particular, which captures how ideologically dispersed the parties are, has received much attention in earlier work. More ideologically polarized party systems are associated with higher turnout rates, while both proximity voting and mechanisms of accountability appear strengthened when parties are more ideologically distinct. However, party system polarization also strengthens party attachments and entails a risk of fostering mass polarization.

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Does party ambivalence decrease voter turnout? A global Analysis (at Party Politics)

Does party ambivalence, that is, simultaneously evaluating positively more than one political party, decrease turnout? The extant literature on this question is limited to the American case, and findings are rather mixed. Using the data from the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems project, this paper provides a first large-scale comparative analysis of the ambivalence-turnout nexus in 46 countries. Based on two different ambivalence measures, I show that party ambivalence is more prevalent in multiparty systems and that a substantial portion of citizens are ambivalent. Moreover, ambivalence, on average, reduces turnout by at least 4.5 percentage points across countries. Importantly, however, this is not the case for every country. Whether ambivalence decreases voter turnout is conditioned by macro-level factors. More specifically, ambivalence tends to dampen turnout in (1) polarized contexts, (2) parliamentary systems, (3) voluntary voting countries, and (4) less fragmented systems.

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Polarized partisanship in Turkey, over-stability and partisan bias in Turkey

A vast literature demonstrates that partisanship has a stabilizing impact on politics, as it limits electoral volatility. Recent studies have also shown that polarization increases partisanship, thus contributing to electoral stability. Focusing on Turkey, an unconsolidated and highly polarized democracy, this study investigates the role of partisanship in a comparative context by means of data from the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems project. I find that Turkey (among more than 40 countries) is a very high-partisanship country, where partisanship greatly shapes the evaluations of short-term determinants of vote and the vote itself. This research also shows that partisanship in Turkey is associated with very low electoral volatility and defection rates. Moreover, the degree of identification also plays a significant role in its impact on volatility and defection. These findings from the Turkish case offer insights and stimulate a new normative debate on the role of partisanship in unconsolidated democracies.

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How do Turks abroad vote? 

(with Semra Sevi, Can Serif Mekik and André Blais)

Voting rights are an essential feature of  democratic citizenship. Turkey enfranchised its expatriate citizens in 1995, but they were first granted the right to vote from overseas in the 2014 presidential election. We examine turnout and vote choice among expatriates in Turkish elections from 2014 to 2018. We find that turnout among expatriates is low and that they tend to vote in the same direction as domestic voters. Furthermore, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) tend to do better among expatriates compared to their domestic counterparts. Our analyses also suggest that expatriate voting is linked to the strength of voters’ ties to their country of origin. Moreover, expatriate vote choice appears to vary with geographic and political variables associated with the host countries.