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Mershon Center for International Security Studies

Richard Gunther

Paul Beck

Principal Investigators: Paul Beck, Richard Gunther and R. William Liddle, Department of Political Science, and William "Chip" Eveland and Erik Nisbet, School of Communication

The Comparative National Elections Project (CNEP) is a partnership among scholars who have conducted election surveys across the democratic world. Founded in the late 1980s, it now includes 53 surveys from 1990 to 2017 in 27 different countries on five continents, with multiple election surveys in 15 countries. CNEP-based surveys are projected in several future elections.

At their core, the CNEP surveys focus on common questions on the following research topics: personal discussion networks, use of the mass media (television, newspapers, radio, and various electronic sites), political information from associations, contacts by political parties, socio-political values, attitudes towards democracy, civic participation, the integrity of the electoral process, and voting behavior.

In addition, standard demographic and voting behavior variables also are a part of the CNEP surveys. As the project has evolved over time, new question modules have been added to capture important aspects of elections in the new member countries and changing conditions, such as populism, in older member countries–as well as to reflect broadened theoretical perspectives.

At present, CNEP includes surveys in the following places (and elections):

  • Argentina (2007)
  • Bulgaria (1996)
  • Chile (1993, 2000, 2017)
  • China, local elections (2008)
  • Colombia (2014, 2018)
  • Dominican Republic (2010)
  • France (2017)
  • Germany (1990, 2017)
  • Great Britain (1992, 2017)
  • Greece (1996, 2004, 2015)
  • Hong Kong (1998, 2015)
  • Hungary (1998, 2006)
  • Indonesia (1999, 2004, 2009, 2014)
  • Iran (2016)
  • Italy (1996, 2006, 2013)
  • Japan (1993)
  • Kenya (2013)
  • Mexico (2006, 2012)
  • Mozambique (2004)
  • Portugal (2005, 2015)
  • Russia (2016)
  • South Africa (2004, 2009, 2014)
  • Spain (1993, 2004, 2011, 2015, 2016)
  • Taiwan (2004, 2016)
  • Turkey (2014)
  • United States (1992, 2004, 2012, 2016)
  • Uruguay (1994, 2004)

R. William Liddle

William Chip Eveland

In August, CNEP researchers received a grant from the National Science Foundation to conduct a post-election survey of the British electorate as part of a study comparing 2016 and 2017 elections in Britain, France, Germany, the United States and earlier studies of four countries in Southern Europe.

The project, entitled “A Changing Electoral Politics in Western Democracies: Comparing the 2017 British Election to France, Germany, the United States, and Southern Europe within the Comparative National Election Study,” will allow researchers to do a systematic comparative analysis of voting behavior across eight western democracies, at least three of which have undergone substantial party-system realignment in recent years.

This study includes voters in the:

  • June 2017 general election in Britain
  • November 2016 presidential election in the United States
  • May 2017 second-round presidential election in France
  • September 2017 federal legislative election in Germany
  • Elections in Spain (1993, 2004, 2011, 2015, 2016), Greece (1996, 2004, 2015), Portugal (2005, 2015) and Italy (1996, 2006, 2015)

Erik Nisbet

Results of this research will help explain fundamental challenges in recent years to established patterns of voting behavior and party structures in Western democracies by focusing on such factors as responses to economic stress, changing patterns in distribution of political information, demand for and satisfaction with democracy, and political polarization.

Additional insights regarding attitudes toward democracy will be gained by comparing these eight democracies with several less than fully democratic countries such as Turkey that have been surveyed in the last three years using the same questionnaire.

The Mershon Center is the host for CNEP website, which contains each of the original country surveys and questionnaires; a data set that merges the common questions from 47 surveys into a cross-national file of over 81,000 respondents; and various descriptions of the project and its partners.

The center has sponsored some of these surveys and research conferences focused on them, and hosted a 2016 CNEP conference to launch a new wave of research.

Two edited books have been produced by CNEP partners: Democracy, Intermediation, and Voting on Four Continents, edited by Gunther, José Ramón Montero, and Hans-Jürgen Puhle (Oxford, 2007); and Voting in Old and New Democracies, edited by Gunther, Beck, Pedro Magalhães, and Alejandro Moreno (eds.) (Routledge, 2016). A third book will be based on the NSF-funded research.