Elections and Voting Behaviour
Understanding election outcomes is a major area of research in the political sciences. Users can access data on participation, political preferences, specific elections, political campaigning and the media, statistics and international data sources. Users can also access both country specific data and national election studies.
Many election studies use the latest election results as a standard background variable. The post-harmonisation of data for comparative purposes may be necessary for some international datasets. However, integrated and harmonised data from a variety of research projects, data archives and data producers is often available. Some longitudinal datasets allow for comparison with non-European data studies. In such cases, the relevant macrodata on a particular country's political system may be available (see, for example, The Comparative Study of Electoral Systems.)
The CESSDA Catalogue may be searched by a free text search or browsed:
- Browse by topic: select Politics -> Elections
- Browse by keyword: select Politics -> Electoral systems -> Elections, then select appropriate term, for example "European Parliament Elections."
Not all of the CESSDA archives publish data descriptions in the Catalogue, and some archives publish only part of their holdings. Therefore if you do not find suitable data, you may find them by searching directly from each archive's own data catalogue.
The main European multinational election data collections are listed below. These data files are available free of charge for academic use.
Comparative social surveys, such as:
- European Values Study (EVS)
- World Values Survey (WVS)
- European Social Survey (ESS)
- International Social Survey Programme (ISSP)
also provide data on voting patterns and political beliefs. For further information, see Multinational surveys.
A collaborative program of research among election study teams from around the world. Participating countries include a common module of survey questions in their post-election studies. The resulting data are deposited along with voting, demographic, district, and macro variables.
Time period: 1996-
European CSES countries: Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland
Access: The CSES Data Center. Registration required.
Elections to the European Parliament are held every five years. At each of these elections, except for those held during 1984, the academic community has fielded surveys of voters in all participating countries. An integrated EES trend file 1989-2004 is also available.
Time Period: 1979-
Countries: EU members
Since the early 1970's Eurobarometers have conducted face-to-face surveys on behalf of the European Commission. Past surveys have collected data on European elections, national elections (trends on voting intentions and past voting habits), and political party affiliation. The Mannheim Trend File 1970-2002 contains variables on political party preference and electoral behaviour.
Time Period: 1975-
Countries: EU members
Access: DBK download or ZACAT data portal. Registration required.
The European Voter Database includes integrated national election study subsets for each country. These subsets cover a wide variety of variables: general background, occupation and class, cleavage model, political interests and participation, political parties and their leadership, left/right positions, the economy, ideologies and values, and the effect of national issues on voting trends.
Time Period: 1956-1998
Countries: Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden
Access: GESIS-ZA Nr. 3911 via CodebookExplorer (Internet Version). Registration required.
Various studies are available, including data collected as part of the Social Science Research Centre in Berlin's "Free Elections, Political Parties and the Emergence of Competitive Party Systems in Eastern Europe" project.
Time Period: 1989-2005
Countries: Albania, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia
Access: ZACAT data portal. Registration required.
Through co-operation with both ICORE and CESSDA, GESIS-ZA now hold more than 160 election studies at the ZA-EUROLAB, including several major election studies on parliamentary bodies across Europe.
Time Period: 1949-2002
Countries: Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden
Access: Most studies can only be accessed through ZA-EUROLAB with prior permission. For further information please contact ZA-EUROLAB staff.
The following national datasets on elections, voting trends and political attitudes are available via CESSDA members or other organisations:
This online database is part of the CIVICACTIVE project, and provides aggregated election statistics using data from European Parliament, national parliamentary and presidential elections and EU member state referendums between 1990-2007.
Voter turnout across Europe, including EU averages, from 1994 onwards.
IDEA is an intergovernmental organisation that supports sustainable democracy worldwide. Their website provides political participation statistics for national presidential and parliamentary elections worldwide. IDEA also provides access to expert networks, databases, handbooks and relevant websites.
Tables and data on European Parliament elections.
A context database on parliamentary elections and political parties in Europe since 1945. This private and independent website was established by Wolfram Nordsieck.
The election results section of this database includes the outcome of parliamentary and presidential elections from 1990 onwards and covers twelve countries (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, and the Ukraine). Information on the number of registered voters, turnout, votes cast, and total valid votes is also available.
P. Hartmann & I.C. Oedegaard (1997). The CESSDA Guide to National Election Studies in Europe 1945-1995. European Journal of Political Research 31(4), 455-498.
E. Mochmann, I.C. Oedegaard & R. Mauer (1998). Inventory of National Election Studies in Europe 1945-1995. ISBN 3-931219-04-6.
The European Voter. A Comparative Study of Modern Democracies (2005). Ed. by J. Thomassen. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-927321-9.
Data on voting, public opinion, and political participation in the United States of America.
EPRG have surveyed MEPs during both the fifth European Parliament (1999-2004) and Sixth European Parliament (2004-9). These surveys were carried out between October-December 2000 and March-June 2006, respectively. Data is available for academic research purposes.
The Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research's (ICPSR) resources by subject: Mass Political Behaviour and Attitudes
ICPSR maintains and provides access to a vast archive of social science data for research and instruction.
IPU is the international organisation of sovereign state parliaments. The Parliaments Online (PARLINE) database provides access to parliamentary election results and information on leadership changes, contact details and websites. IPU also have datasets on women's participation in politics and a "Women in Politics" Database.
NSD host the MacroDataGuide, providing shortcuts to a diverse selection of macrodata and statistics. Data can be searched or browsed by either topic or country.