Work in Progress

From Political Mobilization to Electoral Participation: Turnout in Barcelona in the 1930s, with Carles Boix, Jordi Muñoz and Francesc Amat. Draft available upon request

We examine the causes of voting by exploiting a historically unique set of official registers that include individualized information on turnout as well as other personal characteristics (such as age, gender, address and profession) in the city of Barcelona in the 1930s. The data consists of a large sample (of almost 25,000 electors) gathered by Boix and Vilanova (1992) and covering three elections (from 1934 to 1936) in Spain’s Second Republic. We match the data with geocoded evidence on the economy, society and politics of that period. The nature of the individual and the geocoded data allows us to examine the full political and social dynamics of voters’ mobilization – especially under the conditions of a transition to democracy. Our claim is that voting (particularly among uneducated, left-leaning voters) was mainly driven by the mobilizational strategies developed by political parties and, particularly, by those social organizations (such as trade unions) that encompassed an important part of society and often acted in tandem with party machines. Personal characteristics, such as education, gender and even distance to polling station, affected turnout – but only in a significant manner when partisan and organizational strategies were absent or weak. The paper contributes to the main debates on the drivers of turnout by integrating personal and mobilizational explanations of voting.

Did Female Suffrage bolster Conservative Support? The case of the Spanish Second Republic (1931-1939), with Francesc Amat and Jordi Muñoz. Draft available upon request.

Conventional wisdom argues that the relationship between suffrage extension to women and conservative voting is robust and positive, especially in Catholic countries. Indeed, even prominent left-wing suffraggettes argued against the introduction of female suffrage or to postpone it, at least until women were ready to make a “conscious choice” free of religious influence. We test this claim in the context of the Spanish Second Republic (1931-1936), a context in which a strong relationship could have been expected. By employing election results at the municipality level and a difference-in-differences approach, we show that the introduction of female suffrage did not lead to better results for right-wing parties, nor it damaged left-wing electoral outcomes. Conservative victory in 1933, the first time in which women were allowed to vote, was due instead to differential mobillization patterns: a higher turnout among right-wing supporters, especially in the conservative countryside, and a lower turnout among leftist voters, paved the way for conservative victory.

Does ideology remain frozen in hot economic weather? Economic hardship and left-right ideology in The Netherlands 2007-2013, with Dingeman Wiertz (link)

Conventional wisdom argues that experiences of economic hardship during economic downturns push people to adopting more left-wing views. The general expectation is that experience of economic hardship makes people more vulnerable and more reliant on welfare state programs or aware of inequalities. However, this statement stands in contrast with research on left-right ideologies, which argue that ideological positioning is a structural factor that remains stable in the short-run. Departing from this debate, we exploit unique seven-wave panel data from The Netherlands to directly examine whether people adjust their political ideology in response to economic shocks in terms of employment status and household income. Our findings suggest that that changes in economic status have virtually no impact on political ideology. Our results mainly point to the resilience of left-right self-placement, even under turbulent conditions. This strengthens the case for treating people’s left-right self-placement as an indicator of their long-run, stable ideologies.

When the context matters: Identity, secession and the spatial dimension in Catalonia, with Marc Guinjoan. Draft available upon request.

When explaining preferences towards secessionism, regional/national identity is conceived as an unconditional and direct factor. The general contention is that a higher regional identity is associated with higher preferences towards independence. In this paper we challenge this approach and argue that the effect of identity in pluri-national societies is not unconditional but, instead, is shaped by the context where the individual lives. The main hypothesis we will put to the test is whether interaction with the opposite identity makes individuals less likely to rationalize their support towards secession on identity-grounds, while individuals’ preferences in homogeneous contexts are more likely to be based on identity concerns. We investigate these claims by using a pool of 18,500 individuals interviewed in Catalonia between June 2011 and November 2013. By combining individual and aggregate-level data and implementing an instrumental variable approach, we show that the effect of individual identity changes according to the identity of people’s immediate context. More concretely, findings reveal that the effect of individual’s identity is stronger in nationally homogeneous contexts, in particular among individuals that hold dual identities.

Equidistant and Distant Political Alternatives. Explaining Abstention because of Indifference and Alienation. Draft available upon request.

This paper systematically reveals the limitations of spatial theories of indifference and alienation on vote outcomes in 21 countries and 52 elections (primary contribution), and the theoretical importance of party context to the substantive relevance of indifference and alienation on voter abstention. I reveal two novel insights of importance to spatial models of voter abstention. (1) The effects of indifference and alienation are relatively low, and lower than claimed in single-country analyses to date, and (2) The effects of indifference and alienation, where relevant, are strongly conditioned by the polarization of the party system and the effective number of parties. These empirical and theoretical insights have important implications for theories of spatial voting and abstention, which have hitherto assumed all effects to be equally distributed among electors, and which have overestimated their explanatory importance.