Unpacking second-order elections theory: The effects of ideological extremity on voting in European elections.
The proposition that extreme parties should perform better in second-order national contests when compared to adjacent, first-order, national elections has so far received scant attention from scholars. Correspondingly, it lacks a developed theoretical framework and systematic empirical testing. This study strives to fill these lacunae, offering a comparative analysis of all European and adjacent national elections in the last six decades. Contrary to expectations, I find a negative effect of ideological extremity on party performance in (second-order) European elections. Moreover, the effect of ideological extremity is also conditional upon party size and the temporal distance of the European election to the last national election. However, these effects are at odds with theoretical expectations of existing research. These findings have broader implications, especially in terms of transformations of European politics. For instance, they can be indicative of shifts in voter motivations and the electoral costs of governing for extreme parties.
Published in: Electoral Studies, (2023) 58