No. 28



Economy Driven Voting at the European Parliament Elections

It is not unusual for the ruling parties to be unsuccessful at the European Parliament elections, and not to be able to repeat the success achieved at the elections to the national parliament.

The voters tend to choose completely different parties at the European Parliament and the national parliament elections, even though the same parties compete for seats in both. One of the main reasons why the ruling parties lose so many votes is considered to be the poor state of economy. According to this, ruling parties lose votes in poor economic situations and win them when the economy is on the up. During the European Parliament elections in 2009, economic indicators of most EU countries were in significant downfall, which presumes that the election results are strongly based on economic considerations. The aim of this study is to explain how the economic situation affected the penalising of the ruling parties ­during the European Parliament elections in 2009. Primarily, behaviour patterns of individuals were tested. First, the voter’s choice affected by the general economic situation of the state or by his or her personal economic situation; second, if the individual evaluates the state’s economy retrospectively or prospectively. Another part of the study also examined if the voters believed the government to be responsible for the state’s economic situation and how this affected their choice of party.

The results of the analysis showed that the ruling parties were significantly penalised during the 2009 European Parliament elections. A significant number of people who had previously supported the ruling parties gave their votes to non-ruling parties. The individual choice was mostly affected by the state’s economic situation. The better it was believed to be, the more votes went to the ruling parties. Both retrospective and prospective evaluations of the economy proved to be of great value. The choice was also affected by the family’s economic situation; people who were better off were more likely to vote for the ruling parties. The government was held responsible for the state’s economy, and people used the European Parliament elections to show their dissatisfaction with the government’s activities by voting for the parties that were not part of the government.

Full article in Estonian