Higher research seminar with Henrik Ekengren Oscarsson on the Swedish National Election Studies Program: A research agenda for the 2018 general election
Convenors: karin [dot] aggestam [at] svet [dot] lu [dot] se (Karin Aggestam) & anders [dot] uhlin [at] svet [dot] lu [dot] se (Anders Uhlin)
Presentation by Professor Henrik Ekengren Oscarsson, Department of Political Science, Gothenburg University.
The Swedish National Election Studies Program: A research agenda for the 2018 general election
In the past thirty years, the Swedish party system has undergone a fundamental transformation both in size (fragmentation) and structure (dimensionality and polarization). The number of effective parties is growing, the classic unidimensional economic left-right divide is challenged by several new issue dimensions, and the polarization along new cultural conflicts is effectively re-sorting the electorate. Fuelled by processes of dealignment and individualization, changes in the citizens’ perceptions of the political space and their own ideological positions have also resulted in political change at the polls. As a direct consequence of these developments, Sweden experience a volatile parliamentary situation with dire implications for political stability. In the past few years, the SNES program has been “reinvented” with new sources of funding, a new organization and a change in survey mode for the large voter surveys that is conducted at times of elections. This is a challenge to the comparability with the long standing series of voter surveys (1956-2014) and the comparative part of the study (Comparative Study of Electoral Systems CSES 1995-). Efforts have been made to keep the 2018 Swedish Election Study as the main ‘work horse‘ for research on electoral behavior in Sweden. In 2018, the program will also field the Members of Parliament surveys (Riksdagsundersökningarna), candidate surveys (Comparative Candidate Studies, CCS), and the coding of party pledges (Party Pledge Research Group). The main research objective of the program is still focused on monitoring the well-being and the dynamics of the representative democracy, and how long-term and short-term determinants affect electoral behavior. As always, the SNES will try balancing the research objectives of keeping the unique 50 years+ time series intact while at the same time make room for new components that speak directly to contemporary electoral research. On-going research themes involve the development of choice set models, analyses of retrospective voting, new measures of partisanship, and voters’ use of social media and voting advice applications. The component of the SNES 2018 that include the comparative study of electoral systems (CSES IV) – “Democracy divided” is devoted to the study of populism, with survey instruments for tapping out-group attitudes, sense of nationalism, and elite attitudes surveyed in more than 50 countries.
Professor HENRIK EKENGREN OSCARSSON is research director at the Swedish National Election Studies program (SNES) at the department of Political Science, University of Gothenburg. He has recently completed a 7-year period as part time research director of the SOM Institute. His main research interests concern representative democracy, elections, voter turnout, public opinion, and political methodology. On-going projects investigate voter perceptions of party pledges and pledge fulfillment, voters’ consideration sets, political sophistication, and partisanship. Recent publications are "The Nordic Voter: Myths of Exceptionalism" (with Kasper M Hansen, Åsa Bengtsson, Hanne-Marthe Narud and Olafur Hardarsson, 2013), “The Swedish Voter” (with Sören Holmberg, in Swedish, Wolter Kluwer 2016), “When and Why are Voters Correct in their Evaluations of Specific Government Performance?” (with Elin Naurin, Journal of Politics, 2017), and “Citizens and Political Sophistication” (with Lauri Rapeli, Oxford Research Encyclopedia, 2018). Oscarsson is co-editor (with Sören Holmberg) of the Research Handbook in Political Partisanship (Edward Elgar, forthcoming in 2020).