The study is designed to explain how and why voter and party behaviour varies across space and time. We will compare voter and party behaviour across five countries with different electoral rules. In order to maximize variation in electoral arrangements, we have chosen to study Canada, France, Germany, Spain, and Switzerland.

Electoral systems

We will be able to see whether the same parties and/or voters behave differently when they find themselves in:

  • simultaneous elections with different voting rules (FPTP in the local district and PR nationally, as in Germany),
  • a sequence of elections with different systems (PR for European elections, two rounds for legislative and presidential elections, and a mixed system for local elections, as in France),
  • or a sequence of elections with the same voting system but different electoral contexts (federal and provincial elections in Canada).

Variations within countries

Finally, we will examine variations within countries, most especially variations in district magnitude (both across regions within the same election and across elections within the same region), which are particularly strong in Spain and Switzerland.

In each country, we have selected two regions to ensure some variation in the electoral system or electoral context. The regions are :

  • Ile de France and Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur (PACA) in France;
  • Lower Saxony and Hesse in Germany;
  • Zurich and Lucerne in Switzerland;
  • Madrid and Catalonia in Spain;
  • Ontario and Quebec in Canada.

26 elections

In each of the French, German and Spanish regions, we will cover three elections : one national, one sub-national, and one supra-national. The subnational election will be municipal in France, Lander in Germany, and regional in Spain. In Canada, we will consider federal and provincial elections (local elections are non partisan) while we will cover federal, and cantonal elections in Switzerland. All in all, 26 elections will be included, to be held between 2011 and 2015.