Do we need warm leaders? : exploratory study of the role of voter evaluations of leaders' traits on turnout in seven European countries
European journal of political research, 2019, Vol. 58, No. 1, pp. 117-140
FERREIRA DA SILVA, Frederico, COSTA, Patricio, Do we need warm leaders? : exploratory study of the role of voter evaluations of leaders' traits on turnout in seven European countries, European journal of political research, 2019, Vol. 58, No. 1, pp. 117-140 - https://hdl.handle.net/1814/66029
Retrieved from Cadmus, EUI Research Repository
Previous research on leader effects has focused exclusively on the impact of voters' evaluations of leaders on vote choice, disregarding possible effects on the prior step of deciding whether or not to turn out to vote. In line with the personalisation of politics thesis, leaders have a higher impact among dealigned voters. Previous studies have demonstrated that leader effects are stronger among voters who voice their dealignment - namely party switchers. However, the potential impact of leaders among those who exited (i.e., who have abstained) is still unstudied. Could leaders have a mobilisation effect and therefore trigger turnout decisions? What characteristics of party leaders are more relevant in this regard? This article is the first comparative study to examine how the evaluation of party leaders' traits influences voter turnout in general elections. The work incorporates data from election studies across seven countries with different social contexts (Portugal, Spain, Ireland, Germany, United Kingdom, Italy and Hungary). Characteristics of leaders were grouped into two dimensions - competence and warmth - in accordance with the stereotype content model and relevant studies on leaders' traits evaluation. Multiple binary logistic regression models were performed to analyse the predictive power of competence and warmth on turnout, controlling for sociodemographic, political ideology variables and voters' past political behaviour. Results reinforce the personalisation of politics theory, showing the utmost relevance of warmth personality traits of leaders in voter turnout decisions. Competence personality traits were found to be relevant only in some situations. Interaction effects were also demonstrated between warmth evaluations and identifying with a right-wing party as well as past political behaviour with both warmth and competence.
First published:11 March 2018
Cadmus permanent link: https://hdl.handle.net/1814/66029
Full-text via DOI: 10.1111/1475-6765.12273
ISSN: 0304-4130; 1475-6765
Keyword(s): turnout leaders' personality traits personalisation of politics dealignment stereotype content model
Sponsorship and Funder information:
FCT (Fundacao para a Ciencia e a Tecnologia), under the research project entitled 'The Personalisation of Politics in the 21st Century: A Research Project on Democratic Elections' [PTDC/CPJ-CPO/120295/2010]
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