Incongruence Between European, National and Regional Elections in the European Multilevel Electoral System

  • Schakel, Arjan H. (Maastricht University)


The number of countries holding elections for the European Parliament has increased from 9 in 1979 to 28 in 2014. Since the 1970s, 19 European Union member states hold or have introduced elections to a regional tier of government. The electoral transformation has been accompanied by shifts in authority. The stakes in supranational and subnational elections have increased because substantial authority has shifted from the national level to the regional and European levels. Opportunities have increased for voters to express their opinion about policies and governments across electoral arenas. But in how far represent supranational and subnational election outcomes a deviation from electoral behaviour in the national political arena?

In this paper I will explore dissimilarity in the vote between European, national and regional elections. By employing various incongruence measures I explore where, when and how the European vote differs from the national and regional vote in the European regions. Dissimilarity in the vote is related to various factors which are thought to impact on congruence between electoral outcomes. Special attention will be given to electoral timing of an election vis-à-vis other elections, authority endowed to regional tiers of government, and territorial cleavages. I assess the impact of these variables by exploiting a unique dataset which contains European, national and regional election results disaggregated at the regional level for 180 regions in eight EU member states from 1979 until 2014.