XI Congreso de la AECPA (II). Elections and public opinion in times of crisis

Notes from the XI Congreso de la AECPA. La política en tiempos de incertidumbre, organized by the Asociación Española de Ciencia Política y de la Administración (AECPA), in Seville, Spain, the 18-20 September 2013. More notes on this event: 11aecpa.

Elections and public opinion in times of crisis

Los gobiernos que se enfrentan a las urnas en los últimos años lo hacen en un contexto económico muy adverso. Desde la irrupción de la crisis, casi 7 de cada 10 gobiernos europeos no han conseguido mantenerse en el poder. El objetivo de este grupo de trabajo es discutir nuevas investigaciones en curso sobre las elecciones tanto en España (locales, autonómicas y generales) como a nivel comparado (Europa u otras democracias desarrolladas) que han tenido lugar desde el inicio de la recesión. El grupo de trabajo está particularmente interesado en analizar cómo el actual contexto económico ha afectado al comportamiento electoral de los ciudadanos (nivel de participación, voto al gobierno, ascenso de partidos antisistema, etc.) como en sus actitudes políticas. No obstante, también seremos receptivos a trabajos que, aunque no traten directamente la economía como un elemento central, analicen el comportamiento electoral tanto en España como en otras democracias desarrolladas a en los últimos años.

Vote intention in Spain 1978-2013. A Second Transition towards extra-representative politics?
Ismael Peña-López


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Full text:
Peña-López, I. (2013). Intención de voto en España 1978-2013. ¿Una Segunda Transición hacia una política extra-representativa?. Comunicación en el XI Congreso de la AECPA. 18-20 de septiembre de 2013. Sevilla: AECPA
logo of PDF file
Peña-López, I. (2013). Intención de voto en España 1978-2013. ¿Una Segunda Transición hacia una política extra-representativa?. Comunicación en el XI Congreso de la AECPA. 18-20 de septiembre de 2013. Sevilla: AECPA

A case of “direct representative democracy”? The Five Stars Movement between the mith of immediacy and the challenge of persistence in the institutions.
Natascia Mattucci.

The Movement 5 Stelle (M5S) got 25% in Italy when most of people used to vote only to two parties. The M5S is not an extra-representative movement: it actually is against the system, but it is also present inside the institutions, to change the system from within.

Most people tag the M5S as an anti-politics movement, populist. But, is it? How does political representation change after M5S breaks bipolarism and becomes the most voted force?

There is a strong anti-politics rhetoric, based on the dilettante politician that “does not need to know about politics”, that does not have to be a professional of politics. Anti-politics is a radical criticism of the professional politician: the politician should be someone that has (another) a job. The politician is a spokesman or a loudspeaker, not a representative. Anti-politics aims at a “repersonalization” of politics, re-establishing a direct bound between the spokesman and the people, who controls and decides.

Politicians, if not representatives but spokesmen, then they have a mandate to translate what the people wants to the parliament. They cannot decide on their own: they just have to vote what the people voted. This has a problem as the representative then lacks its general vision for the common good. If the politician cannot infer from what is being discussed what is best for everyone and vote in consequence, then legitimacy is broken.

The M5S only used social media for their information and communications and promote that citizens do alike. Meetups, blogs, Twitter, etc. are tools that break top-down communication and eliminate the intermediation of mass media – and the biases and censorships that those add.

The problem is inner democracy of the movement: the founders of the movement own the platforms (e.g. the main blog) and the brands. But the thing is that people have embraced the movement because it represents a disruption in Italian politics.

Unemployment and vote. Does unemployment affect the voting experience?
Miguel Cainzos López

  • Does the personal experience of unemployment electoral participation?
  • Do unemployed people participate differently?

Analyzed the Spanish general elections from 1979 to 2011.

And, briefly put, it seems that unemployment affects very little the sense of one’s vote. But it does have a small negative effect over participation.

The Spanish Context

  • Always a lot of unemployment, with most elections with unemployment above 15%.
  • Seven big legal reforms of the job market plus a few dozen of minor reforms.
  • Unemployment perceived as a major problem by the citizens. The problem is relevant and visible.
  • It is characteristic from Spaniards that citizens strongly demand from the State to guarantee a job for everyone.


  • H1: Apathy. Unemployed people are disaffected in general and with politics in particular and, hence, they will vote less.
  • H2: Generalized punishment. Voters will reward or punish the government according to their performance. Thus, unemployed voters will punish the government whatever its color, or they will not vote (punish the government without rewarding other parties).
  • H3: Ownership of the topic. The party that is perceived as more competent or promotes better policies on the topic, they will “own” the issue. Unemployed people will vote for the “owner” of the issue. The PSOE owned the issue during the 1980’s and, after the 1993-1994 crisis, the PP became the owner until 2011.
  • H4: Punishment conditioned to the ideological affinity. Everyone will vote to the party that better fits their ideology. Only unemployed voters that are ideologically near to the party in the government will actually “change” their vote (and punish the government) by either voting another party or just not voting.
  • H5: Punishment based on the politization of the personal experience by the left-wing voters. Only left-wing voters will politicize their experience with unemployment and thus blame the government for their economical situation.


Apathy seems confirmed as people tend to vote less when unemployed.

In 1986, left-wing employees did punish the socialist government. The hypothesis of ownership could also apply in 1986. In 2004 (conservative party in office) the logic seems the reverse.

But, all in all, apathy is what prevails.

XI Congreso de la AECPA (2013)

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2013) “XI Congreso de la AECPA (II). Elections and public opinion in times of crisis” In ICTlogy, #120, September 2013. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
Retrieved month dd, yyyy from http://ictlogy.net/review/?p=4119

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