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Chapter

Cover Foundations of European Politics

4. Ideology and Issues  

This chapter looks at the changing nature of ideology in Europe. It also delves into the issue of voter preference and considers how that has changed over time. It is all too often assumed that voters, as well as parties, exist along a single ideological left-to-right continuum. However, the truth is that there more deviations from this continuum than we might have in the past assumed. With the emergence of new salient issues, such as immigration, the environment and European integration, the old assumptions no longer hold true. The chapter also looks at populism, which it defines as a thin-central ideology. The final questions of this chapter are: how has populism challenged our current model of democracy? What does the future hold in this regard?

Chapter

Cover Foundations of European Politics

5. Voting Decisions  

This chapter analyses how citizens in Europe vote across elections. Elections are an integral part of democracy as they allow citizens to shape collective decision-making. The chapter addresses the issue of trying to explain why people vote in the first place. It also looks at the inequality of turnout between citizens: why do some people just not bother to vote at all? The chapter also looks at different explanations of vote choice. This is achieved by introducing the proximity model of voting which assumes that voters and parties can be aligned on one ideological dimension. It presupposes that voters will vote for the party that most closely resembles their own ideological position. Complications can be added to this model, however, that consider the role of retrospective performance evaluations and affective attachments to social groups and political parties. The institutional context also needs to be considered, though, as this can influence voters’s decision-making.