Results of Municipal Elections in Lower Saxony from 1996 to 2017: Development and Application of a new dataset for the empirical study of municipal elections.

The main aim of the project is the explanation of voter turnout and election results in the municipalities of Lower Saxony between 1996 and 2017. The objects of analysis include the elections of aldermen and other councilmen, mayors, and county commissioners. The theoretical framework is built around three approaches known in the literature for electoral and party research. These approaches offer up expectations, which allow the following pointed hypotheses to be formulated for this project:

(1) The results of municipal elections depend on the affiliation of a community to a political tradition (i.e. party strongholds). This socio-cultural approach is derived from the Cleavage Theory, which states that the current party system is shaped by fissures in society.

(2) The results of municipal elections in a community are decided by its economic success (economic voting). The main part of this research area is formed by the “reward-punishment-hypothesis”, which states that incumbents are “rewarded” for positive economic developments. Thus, a negative development leads them to be “punished” by voters and losses during elections.

(3) The results of municipal elections are affected by the voting behavior and the governments on national and state levels second-order election theory (research literature has shown, based on empirical results, that elections on lower political levels are often used to punish parties governing on higher levels).

The primary component of this venture is the production of a data set, which is presented in the form of a census of the municipal elections in Lower Saxony for the entire investigation period, and the connection of the results with social, cultural and economic characteristics of the communities. The compilation of the data set will result from numerous still fragmented data sources. The testing of the hypotheses will primarily take place via models of spatial statistics.

 

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