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Article

Political Sophistication and Populist Party Support

The Case of PTB-PVDA and VB in the 2019 Belgian Elections

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 3 2020
Keywords populist voters, political sophistication, voting motivations, Belgium, elections
Authors Marta Gallina, Pierre Baudewyns and Jonas Lefevere
AbstractAuthor's information

    In this article, we investigate the moderating role of political sophistication on the vote for populist parties in Belgium. Building on the literature about the diverse determinants of populist party support, we investigate whether issue considerations and populism-related motivations play a bigger role in the electoral calculus of politically sophisticated voters.
    Using data from the 2019 general elections in Belgium, we focus on the cases of Vlaams Belang (VB) and Parti du Travail de Belgique- Partij van de Arbeid (PTB-PVDA). We find evidence suggesting that political sophistication enhances the impact of populism-related motivations on populist party support, although the effects are contingent on the party. Moreover, we show that, for issue considerations, the moderation effect only comes into play for VB voters: the impact of anti-immigrant considerations is greater at increasing levels of political sophistication.


Marta Gallina
Marta Gallina is a PhD Student at the Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium. She obtained her BA and MA in Social Sciences at the University of Milan. Her research interests regard the study of political behaviour, political sophistication, issue dimensionality, populism and Voting Advice Applications. Her work appeared in scientific journals such as Statistics, Politics and Policy, Environmental Politics and Italian Political Science.

Pierre Baudewyns
Pierre Baudewyns is Professor of political behaviour at UCLouvain. He is involved in different projects (voters, candidates) related to National Election Study. Results of his research have been published in Electoral Studies, European Political Science, Regional & Federal Studies, West European Politics and Comparative European Politics.

Jonas Lefevere
Jonas Lefevere is research professor of political communication at the Institute for European Studies and assistant professor of communication at Vesalius College. Since 2018, he is also vice-chair of the ECPR Standing Group on Political Communication. His research interests deal with the communication strategies of political parties, and the effects of election campaigns on voters’ electoral behaviour. He has published on these topics in, amongst others, Electoral Studies, Public Opinion Quarterly, Political Communication and International Journal of Public Opinion Research.
Article

How Issue Salience Pushes Voters to the Left or to the Right

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 3 2020
Keywords voting behaviour, salience, ideological dimensions, elections, Belgium
Authors Stefaan Walgrave, Patrick van Erkel, Isaïa Jennart e.a.
AbstractAuthor's information

    Recent research demonstrates that political parties in western Europe are generally structured along one dimension – and often take more or less similar ideological positions on the economic and cultural dimension – whereas the policy preferences of voters are structured two dimensionally; a considerable part of the electorate combines left-wing stances on one dimension with right-wing stances on the other. These ideologically ‘unserved’ voters are the main focus of this study. Using data from a large-scale survey in Flanders and Wallonia, we demonstrate how the salience of the two dimensions explains whether these unserved voters ultimately end up voting for a right-wing or a left-wing party. Specifically, we show that these voters elect a party that is ideologically closest on the dimension that they deem most important at that time. To summarise, the findings of this study confirm that salience is a key driver of electoral choice, especially for cross-pressured voters.


Stefaan Walgrave
Stefaan Walgrave (Corresponding author), Department of Political Science, University of Antwerp,

Patrick van Erkel
Patrick van Erkel, Department of Political Science, University of Antwerp.

Isaïa Jennart
Isaïa Jennart, Department of Political Science, University of Antwerp.

Jonas Lefevere
Jonas Lefevere, Institute of European Studies, Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

Pierre Baudewyns
Pierre Baudewyns, Institut de Science Politique Louvain-Europe (SSH/SPLE) Department, UCLouvain.
Research Note

Campaigning Online and Offline: Different Ballgames?

Presidentialization, Issue Attention and Negativity in Parties’ Facebook and Newspaper Ads in the 2019 Belgian General Elections

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 3 2020
Keywords political advertising, Belgium, social media, newspapers, campaign
Authors Jonas Lefevere, Peter Van Aelst and Jeroen Peeters
AbstractAuthor's information

    This Research Note investigates party advertising in newspapers and on social media (Facebook) during the 2019 general elections in Flanders, the largest region of Belgium. The 2019 elections saw a marked increase in the use of social media advertising by parties, whereas newspaper advertising saw a decline. Prior research that compares multiple types of advertising, particularly advertising on social and legacy media remains limited. As such, based on a quantitative content analysis we investigate not just the prevalence of party advertising on both types of media, but also compare the level of negativity, presidentialisation, and issue emphasis. Our analysis reveals substantial differences: we find that not only the type of advertisements varies across the platforms, but also that social media ads tend to be more negative. Finally, parties’ issue emphasis varies substantially as well, with different issues being emphasized in newspaper and Facebook advertisements.


Jonas Lefevere
Jonas Lefevere is research professor of political communication at the institute for European Studies (VUB) and assistant professor at Vesalius College, Brussels.

Peter Van Aelst
Peter Van Aelst is a research professor at the department of political science at the University of Antwerp.

Jeroen Peeters
Jeroen Peeters is a PhD student at the department of political science at the University of Antwerp.
Research Notes

Sub-Constituency Campaigning in PR Systems

Evidence from the 2014 General Elections in Belgium

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 3 2019
Keywords Sub-constituency campaigning, PR system, political advertisements, election campaign, content analysis
Authors Jonas Lefevere, Knut De Swert and Artemis Tsoulou-Malakoudi
AbstractAuthor's information

    Sub-constituency campaigning occurs when parties focus their campaign resources on specific geographical areas within an electoral district. This behaviour was traditionally thought to occur only in single-member plurality elections, but recent research demonstrates that proportional systems with multi-member districts can also elicit sub-constituency campaigning. However, most studies of sub-constituency campaigning rely on self-reported measures of campaigning, not direct measures of campaign intensity in different regions and communities. We present novel data on geographical variations in the intensity of Flemish parties’ campaign advertising during the 2014 general elections in Belgium, which provides a direct measure of sub-constituency campaigning. Our findings show clear evidence of sub-constituency campaigning: parties campaign more intensely in municipalities where they have stronger electoral support and in municipalities with greater population density.


Jonas Lefevere
Jonas Lefevere is assistant professor at Vesalius College and the Institute for European Studies (VUB). His research interests include the strategic communication of political elites, the effects of campaign communication on political attitudes and electoral choice and the role of issue perceptions in electoral behavior.

Knut De Swert
Knut De Swert is Assistant Professor, Political Communication and Journalism, at the Amsterdam School of Communication Research (University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands). His research is situated in the field of media and politics, and mainly focuses on the quality of (political) journalism and foreign news in a comparative perspective.

Artemis Tsoulou-Malakoudi
Artemis Tsoulou-Malakoudi is a student research assistant for the EOS research project RepResent which focuses on representation and democratic resentment. She is currently following a Research Master’s at the University of Amsterdam with an interest in political communication research.
Article

Benadrukken partijen eigen thema’s in verkiezingstijd?

Een onderzoek naar thematische aandacht van Nederlandse partijen rond de verkiezingen van 1994 tot en met 2012

Journal Res Publica, Issue 3 2016
Keywords issue ownership, elections, Netherlands, political parties, issue convergence
Authors Fleur Vis and Jonas Lefevere
AbstractAuthor's information

    Issue ownership theory argues that the public considers some parties as more capable to handle certain issues. Issue ownership is important, because parties tend to receive more votes if their owned issues dominate the campaign. Consequently, issue ownership theory expects parties to emphasize issues they own, while ignoring issues owned by their competitors. This study investigates to what extent Dutch parties emphasized issues they own, before and after the seven Dutch national elections held between 1994 and 2012. It uses a detailed content analysis of four Dutch newspapers, that tracked parties’ issue attention. The results show that parties tend to emphasize owned issues more, both compared to other issues and compared to their competitors. A surprising finding is that parties tend to emphasize owned issues more during the formation period compared to the campaign. Moreover, government parties emphasize owned issues less than opposition parties.


Fleur Vis
Fleur Vis is student Communicatiewetenschap aan de Universiteit van Amsterdam. Zij heeft zich tijdens haar afstudeeronderzoek gericht op het domein van de politieke communicatie en doet onderzoek naar issue ownership.

Jonas Lefevere
Jonas Lefevere is universitair docent aan de Amsterdam School of Communications Research (Universiteit van Amsterdam). Hij doet onderzoek naar de mate waarin verkiezingscampagnes kiezers beïnvloeden en strategische partijcommunicatie. Hij publiceerde over deze onderwerpen in onder meer Party Politics, Political Communication en Communication Research.
Article

Kandidaatkeuze in advertenties

Wat bepaalt wie aandacht krijgt?

Journal Res Publica, Issue 3 2010
Keywords election campaigns, advertisements, agenda setting, content analysis
Authors Jonas Lefevere and Régis Dandoy
AbstractAuthor's information

    In the run up to the elections, parties have several ways of communicating with voters. In the current paper, we focus on one piece of the puzzle: advertisements of political parties in the mass media. More specifically, we are interested in the choice of candidates within these ads. In countries where parties are the dominant actor, they are faced with a choice: not all candidates can be promoted in the campaign, as this would be too costly and inefficient. Thus, the first question we want to answer is what factors determine candidate choice in political ads? Secondly, does candidate choice in political ads have an effect on the subsequent coverage in media as well? Agenda setting research has shown that as far as issues are concerned, ads do set the media agenda. We investigate whether this also holds for candidate choice. The results indicate that both internal party hierarchy, as well as external visibility of candidates determines candidate choice in political ads. Furthermore, the agenda setting effect of political ads is confirmed as well.


Jonas Lefevere
Jonas Lefevere (1981) is doctoraatsstudent en lid van de onderzoeksgroep Media, Middenveld en Politiek (M2P) aan de Universiteit Antwerpen. Zijn voornaamste onderzoeksinteresses zijn verkiezingscampagnes en hun effecten, en onderzoek naar publieke opinie.

Régis Dandoy
Régis Dandoy (1977) is onderzoeker aan de Université Libre de Bruxelles. Zijn voornaamste onderzoeksinteresses zijn Belgische en Europese politiek, agenda setting en federalisme.
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