Electoral expectations and strategic voting during the 2021 Storting elections

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PhD Candidate Alexander Verdoes from the Department of Comparative Politics will present at this Tuesday seminar. His talk is titled "Electoral expectations and strategic voting during the 2021 Storting elections".

Abstract for the talk: 

The 2021 Norwegian Storting elections provide an excellent opportunity to study electoral expectations and how expectations impact voting behaviour. Already before the electoral campaign properly started, it was quite evident that the centre-right block would lose its majority in parliament, and that a new left-wing government would probably be formed. Furthermore, during the entire campaign four smaller parties (KrF, V, MDG, and Rødt) were polling around the 4% nationwide electoral threshold. Even though the KrF and the MDG failed to pass the 4% threshold, they remained represented because they won enough votes in some electoral districts to win a district mandate. Moreover, a new party (Pasientfokus) entered the parliament because it was able to win a district seat in Finnmark. While assessing the viability of a party, voters thus must evaluate both the nationwide and the local strength of a party. Hence, the context of the 2021 elections provided voters with different incentives to behave strategically as voters could either try to influence the composition of the government, or vote for another, then their preferred, party to prevent a wasted vote, or to increase the likelihood that another party will pass the (district) electoral threshold.

In order to study expectations and their impact on the vote, I make use of data from the Norwegian Citizen Panel that was fielded in June 2021, three months before the national election. The survey questions tapped respondents’ expectations whether a party would win a seat in their constituency, whether a party would be able to pass the four percent threshold at the national level, and whether a party would end up in the government after the election.

I find that Norwegian voters have substantially meaningful electoral expectations. Voters are more likely to expect that locally strong parties will win a seat in their electoral district compared to parties that are locally weak, voters are uncertain about the fate of smaller parties in regard to the 4% nationwide electoral threshold, and voters seem to be well aware which parties are likely to end up in the national government. In addition, I provide preliminary evidence that these electoral expectations matter as voters are more likely to cast a strategic vote and vote for a party that is perceived viable in their electoral district, voters defect from, but also try to help, parties that struggle to pass the nationwide electoral threshold, and that some voters are trying to influence the government formation. 


The event is in a hybrid format, you are welcome to join us for lunch from the Corner room at DIGSSCORE. Food is provided on a first-come first-served basis.

All are welcome!


Zoom link for digital attendance.