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Explore the latest research: how can we apply science in the upcoming UK snap election on 8th June?
How to go forward with Brexit is one of the most important issues that has faced the UK parliament and public for generations. At the time of the referendum in June last year, the UK public was divided over between the remainers and leavers. One year on, with news that there will be a snap election, it is unclear how the same electorate will cast their vote. With Brexit as the main issue colouring the election, voters are sensing the need, more than ever, to cast a tactical vote.
Each of the 650 parliamentary constituencies will elect one Member of Parliament to the House of Commons using the first past the post system. If one party obtains a majority of seats, then that party is entitled to form the Government, with its leader as Prime Minister. If the election results in no single party having a majority, then there is a hung parliament, in which options for forming the Government are either a minority government or a coalition government.
As we have learnt from last year's referendum and the US presidential election, elections can be unpredictable, and perhaps this one is especially so. Still, with the stakes being so high for the future of Britain, the pressure is on to vote tactically. Leaders are encouraging voters to put usual party affiliation aside on election day and rather cast their vote tactically.
In parallel to the election fever occurring in France, some suggest forming a Lib Dem - Labour - Green progressive coalition could be the only way to avoid a Tories landslide. Ahead of the UK’s snap election, anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller announced what she calls the biggest tactical voting effort in UK history. The Best for Britain initiative aims to support parliamentary candidates who commit to keeping the options open for the British people. The initiative’s efforts are to fight to make the Brexit deal process transparent, honest and democratic. But will the odds of a tactical voting strategy add up? Some believe the danger in letting things, more or less, go along the usual party lines is that the elections will be irrelevant to the crucial issues the country is now facing.
As in all times of uncertainty, turning to science can help. With the elections on our collective conscience, this curated collection of research papers can help us explore the science behind approaches to tactical voting, party preferences and landslide elections.
Abstract: The Gibbard-Satterthwaite theorem is a cornerstone of social choice theory, stating that an onto social choice function cannot be both strategy-proof and non-dictatorial if the number of alternatives is at least three. The Duggan-Schwartz theorem proves an analogue in the case of set-valued elections: if the function is onto with respect to singletons, and can be manipulated by neither an optimist nor a pessimist, it must have a weak dictator. However, the assumption that the function is onto with respect to singletons makes the Duggan-Schwartz theorem inapplicable to elections which necessarily select a committee with multiple members. In this paper we make a start on this problem by considering elections which elect a committee of size two (such as the consulship of ancient Rome). We establish that if such a consular election rule cannot be expressed as the union of two disjoint social choice functions, then strategy-proofness implies the existence of a dictator. Although we suspect that a similar result holds for larger sized committees, there appear to be many obstacles to proving it, which we discuss in detail.
Pub.: 21 Nov '16, Pinned: 26 Apr '17
Abstract: There are many situations in which mis-coordinated strategic voting can leave strategic voters worse off than they would have been had they not tried to strategise. We analyse the simplest of such scenarios, in which a set of strategic voters all have the same sincere preferences and all contemplate casting the same strategic vote, while all other voters are not strategic. Most mis-coordinations in this framework can be classified as instances of either strategic overshooting (too many voted strategically) or strategic undershooting (too few). If mis-coordination can result in strategic voters ending up worse off than they would have been had they all just voted sincerely, we call the strategic vote unsafe. We show that under every onto and non-dictatorial social choice rule there exist circumstances where a voter has an incentive to cast a safe strategic vote. We extend the Gibbard–Satterthwaite Theorem by proving that every onto and non-dictatorial social choice rule can be individually manipulated by a voter casting a safe strategic vote.
Pub.: 14 Dec '13, Pinned: 26 Apr '17
Abstract: Manipulation is a problem of fundamental importance in the context of voting in which the voters exercise their votes strategically instead of voting honestly to prevent selection of an alternative that is less preferred. The Gibbard-Satterthwaite theorem shows that there is no strategy-proof voting rule that simultaneously satisfies certain combinations of desirable properties. Researchers have attempted to get around the impossibility results in several ways such as domain restriction and computational hardness of manipulation. However these approaches have been shown to have limitations. Since prevention of manipulation seems to be elusive, an interesting research direction therefore is detection of manipulation. Motivated by this, we initiate the study of detection of possible manipulators in an election. We formulate two pertinent computational problems - Coalitional Possible Manipulators (CPM) and Coalitional Possible Manipulators given Winner (CPMW), where a suspect group of voters is provided as input to compute whether they can be a potential coalition of possible manipulators. In the absence of any suspect group, we formulate two more computational problems namely Coalitional Possible Manipulators Search (CPMS), and Coalitional Possible Manipulators Search given Winner (CPMSW). We provide polynomial time algorithms for these problems, for several popular voting rules. For a few other voting rules, we show that these problems are in NP-complete. We observe that detecting manipulation maybe easy even when manipulation is hard, as seen for example, in the case of the Borda voting rule.
Pub.: 15 Feb '15, Pinned: 26 Apr '17
Abstract: Critics of the expressive account of voting have argued that it is inconsistent with strategic voting. Since there is strong evidence that people vote strategically, this has been taken to show that many voters are at least partially instrumentally motivated. This paper argues that strategic voting in the relevant sense is consistent with entirely expressive political motivation. Building on an earlier suggestion by Geoffrey Brennan, I model voters as expressively valuing ideological position as well as the strategic pursuit of expressively-defined preferences. This model predicts strategic voting without instrumental preferences entering the voter’s calculus at all. I also suggest that expressive preferences for strategic behaviour can be usefully analysed in terms of dispositional choice.
Pub.: 02 Dec '14, Pinned: 26 Apr '17
Abstract: Authors: Davide Morisi Article URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17457289.2016.1178648?ai=z4&mi=3fqos0&af=R Citation: Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties Publication Date: 2016-05-03T06:04:31Z Journal: Journal of Elections, Public Opinion & Parties
Pub.: 03 May '16, Pinned: 26 Apr '17
Abstract: Authors: Jorge M. Fernandes ; Miguel M. Pereira ; Carolina Plescia Article URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17457289.2016.1176350?ai=z4&mi=3fqos0&af=R Citation: Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties Publication Date: 2016-04-27T07:13:33Z Journal: Journal of Elections, Public Opinion & Parties
Pub.: 27 Apr '16, Pinned: 26 Apr '17
Abstract: The prediction of voting behavior of undecided voters poses a challenge to psychologists and pollsters. Recently, researchers argued that implicit attitudes would predict voting behavior particularly for undecided voters whereas explicit attitudes would predict voting behavior particularly for decided voters. We tested this assumption in two studies in two countries with distinct political systems in the context of real political elections. Results revealed that (a) explicit attitudes predicted voting behavior better than implicit attitudes for both decided and undecided voters, and (b) implicit attitudes predicted voting behavior better for decided than undecided voters. We propose that greater elaboration of attitudes produces stronger convergence between implicit and explicit attitudes resulting in better predictive validity of both, and less incremental validity of implicit over explicit attitudes for the prediction of voting behavior. However, greater incremental predictive validity of implicit over explicit attitudes may be associated with less elaboration.
Pub.: 07 Sep '12, Pinned: 26 Apr '17
Abstract: Implicit attitudes have been suggested as a key to unlock the hidden preferences of undecided voters. Past research, however, offered mixed support for this hypothesis. The present research used a large nationally representative sample and a longitudinal design to examine the predictive utility of implicit and explicit attitude measures in the 2008 U.S. presidential election. In our analyses, explicit attitudes toward candidates predicted voting better for decided than undecided voters, but implicit candidate attitudes were predictive of voting for both decided and undecided voters. Extending our examination to implicit and explicit racial attitudes, we found the same pattern. Taken together, these results provide convergent evidence that implicit attitudes predict voting about as well for undecided as for decided voters. We also assessed a novel explanation for these effects by evaluating whether implicit attitudes may predict the choices of undecided voters, in part, because they are neglected when people introspect about their confidence. Consistent with this idea, we found that the extremity of explicit but not implicit attitudes was associated with greater confidence. These analyses shed new light on the utility of implicit measures in predicting future behavior among individuals who feel undecided. Considering the prior studies together with this new evidence, the data seem to be consistent that implicit attitudes may be successful in predicting the behavior of undecided voters.
Pub.: 04 Feb '14, Pinned: 26 Apr '17
Abstract: Human rationality-the ability to behave in order to maximize the achievement of their presumed goals (i.e., their optimal choices)-is the foundation for democracy. Research evidence has suggested that voters may not make decisions after exhaustively processing relevant information; instead, our decision-making capacity may be restricted by our own biases and the environment. In this paper, we investigate the extent to which humans in a democratic society can be rational when making decisions in a serious, complex situation-voting in a local political election. We believe examining human rationality in a political election is important, because a well-functioning democracy rests largely upon the rational choices of individual voters. Previous research has shown that explicit political attitudes predict voting intention and choices (i.e., actual votes) in democratic societies, indicating that people are able to reason comprehensively when making voting decisions. Other work, though, has demonstrated that the attitudes of which we may not be aware, such as our implicit (e.g., subconscious) preferences, can predict voting choices, which may question the well-functioning democracy. In this study, we systematically examined predictors on voting intention and choices in the 2014 mayoral election in Taipei, Taiwan. Results indicate that explicit political party preferences had the largest impact on voting intention and choices. Moreover, implicit political party preferences interacted with explicit political party preferences in accounting for voting intention, and in turn predicted voting choices. Ethnic identity and perceived voting intention of significant others were found to predict voting choices, but not voting intention. In sum, to the comfort of democracy, voters appeared to engage mainly explicit, controlled processes in making their decisions; but findings on ethnic identity and perceived voting intention of significant others may suggest otherwise.
Pub.: 18 Feb '16, Pinned: 26 Apr '17
Abstract: Studying the development of stable political attitudes, political scientists have argued that repeated voting for a political party reinforces initial party preferences, in a seemingly mechanistic process of habit-formation. However, the empirical evidence is scarce and the theoretical framework underdeveloped. Does the act of voting for a party improve an individual’s evaluation of this party? If so, is this effect simply due to habit-formation, or a more complex psychological mechanism? Drawing on cognitive dissonance theory, we examine the act of voting as a choice inducing dissonance reduction. We go beyond existing research, by focusing on tactical voters—a group for which the notion of habitual reinforcement does not predict an effect. The analyses reveal a positive effect of the act of voting tactically on the preferences for the parties voted for and may thus call for a revision of the traditional understanding of the role of voting in shaping party preferences.
Pub.: 30 Jun '12, Pinned: 24 Apr '17
Abstract: How often will elections end in landslides? What is the probability for a head-to-head race? Analyzing ballot results from several large countries rather anomalous and yet unexplained distributions have been observed. We identify tactical voting as the driving ingredient for the anomalies and introduce a model to study its effect on plurality elections, characterized by the relative strength of the feedback from polls and the pairwise interaction between individuals in the society. With this model it becomes possible to explain the polarization of votes between two candidates, understand the small margin of victories frequently observed for different elections, and analyze the polls' impact in American, Canadian, and Brazilian ballots. Moreover, the model reproduces, quantitatively, the distribution of votes obtained in the Brazilian mayor elections with two, three, and four candidates.
Pub.: 22 Sep '10, Pinned: 24 Apr '17
Abstract: Labour won fewer seats in 2015 than in 2010, even though its share of the vote increased. The decline in representation was occasioned by three features of the electoral geography of the 2015 contest—a collapse in Labour support in Scotland, a particularly strong Conservative advance in marginal seats and the fact that in England and Wales Labour's vote rose most strongly in seats that the party already held. As a result, Labour's vote became markedly less efficiently distributed than that of the Conservatives—a development that could make it very difficult for the party to win an overall majority at the next election. Meanwhile, the redrawing of constituency boundaries that is currently in train will make winning a majority even more difficult. However, the next election could well produce a hung parliament, and the party should be prepared for that eventuality.
Pub.: 19 Dec '16, Pinned: 25 Apr '17
Abstract: Abstract The UK is often regarded as the archetype of Westminster democracy and as the empirical antithesis of the power-sharing coalitions of Western Europe. Yet, in recent years a different account has emerged which focuses on the subtler institutional dynamics that limit the executive. It is to this body of scholarship that this article responds, locating the recent chapter of coalition government within the wider context of the UK’s democratic evolution. To do so, the article draws on Lijphart’s two-dimensional typology of democracies, developing a refined framework that enables systematic comparison over time. The article demonstrates that over the course of the 2010–2015 Parliament, the UK underwent another period of majoritarian modification, driven by factors including the long-term influence of the constitutional forces unleashed under Labour and the short-term impact of coalition management. The article makes several important contributions, salient in the UK and beyond. Theoretically, it offers a critical rejoinder to debates regarding the relationship between institutional design and democratic performance. Methodologically, it demonstrates that the tools of large-scale comparison can be effectively scaled down to facilitate within-case analysis. Empirically, it provides a series of conclusions regarding the tenability of the UK’s extant democratic architecture under the weight of pressures to which it continues to be subject.AbstractThe UK is often regarded as the archetype of Westminster democracy and as the empirical antithesis of the power-sharing coalitions of Western Europe. Yet, in recent years a different account has emerged which focuses on the subtler institutional dynamics that limit the executive. It is to this body of scholarship that this article responds, locating the recent chapter of coalition government within the wider context of the UK’s democratic evolution. To do so, the article draws on Lijphart’s two-dimensional typology of democracies, developing a refined framework that enables systematic comparison over time. The article demonstrates that over the course of the 2010–2015 Parliament, the UK underwent another period of majoritarian modification, driven by factors including the long-term influence of the constitutional forces unleashed under Labour and the short-term impact of coalition management. The article makes several important contributions, salient in the UK and beyond. Theoretically, it offers a critical rejoinder to debates regarding the relationship between institutional design and democratic performance. Methodologically, it demonstrates that the tools of large-scale comparison can be effectively scaled down to facilitate within-case analysis. Empirically, it provides a series of conclusions regarding the tenability of the UK’s extant democratic architecture under the weight of pressures to which it continues to be subject.
Pub.: 29 Nov '16, Pinned: 25 Apr '17
Abstract: Using data from the UK General Election Surveys of 1983 and 1987, we present a critical test of different approaches to tactical voting. Specifically, we are concerned with how the competitive situation in each constituency affects voters' likelihood of voting tactically, as well as the role of voters' attitudes and personal characteristics. We find that voters are less sensitive to the actual marginality of a district than to whether or not their party has a chance of winning the seat. In addition, we find that party identification, and particularly intense loyalty, dampen the tendency to vote tactically, regardless of the type of district. We also consider differences in tactical voting between constituencies where Labour dominates vs. districts where the Conservatives are strongest. Finally, we discuss the broader implications of these findings for the study of voting behavior.
Pub.: 01 Jun '92, Pinned: 24 Apr '17
Abstract: The creation of quantitative territorial social indicators for studies of spatial variations in human behavior is often hampered by the lack of spatially disaggregable data, with the consequence that the absence of any such variations much be assumed. An entropy-maximizing procedure has been developed which produces maximum likelihood estimates of spatial variations within known, aggregate, constraints. This procedure is introduced and illustrated using the example of tactical voting in Great Britain.
Pub.: 01 Nov '92, Pinned: 24 Apr '17