A large body of electoral studies and political party research argues that the institutional context defines incentives that shape citizen participation and voting choice. With the unique resources of the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems, this book provides the first systematic evaluation of this topic. A distinguished international team of electoral scholars finds that the institutional context has only a modest impact on citizen political choices compared to individual level factors. Furthermore, the formal institutional characteristics of electoral systems that have been most emphasized by electoral studies researchers have less impact than characteristics of the party system that are separate from formal institutions. Advanced multi-level analyses demonstrate that contextual effects are more often indirect and interactive, and thus their effects are typically not apparent in single nation election studies. The results have the potential to reshape our understanding of
how the institutional framework and context of election matters, and the limits of institutional design in shaping citizen electoral behavior.
Russell J. Dalton is Professor of Political Science and Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Democracy at the University of California, Irvine. He has received a Fulbright Professorship at the University of Mannheim, a Barbra Streisand Center fellowship, German Marshall Research Fellowship and a POSCO Fellowship at the East/West Center. His scholarly interests include comparative political behavior, political parties, social movements, and empirical democratic theory. Christopher J. Anderson is Professor of Government and Director of the Institute for European Studies at Cornell University. He is a team member of the Persistent Poverty and Upward Mobility theme project organized by Cornell's Institute for the Social Sciences and the international collaborative project on Making Electoral Democracy Work funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. His research focuses on contextual models of politics that view political actors as nested in a variety of social, economic, and political environments that shape and constrain behavior.