VAAs as sources of volatility and fragmentation: self-selection effects and genuine effects
Pol, J.P. van der
Hoof, A.M.J. van
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Recent studies show that using Voting Advice Applications (VAAs) affects partypreferences of voters, and hence leads to party switching. Party switching is anecessary but insufficient condition for volatility (a net switch of voters toother parties) and fragmentation (more parties gaining seats) at the aggregatelevel of electoral constituencies. The research question addressed here iswhether the availability of VAAs in electoral constituencies weakens orstrengthens trends towards greater volatility and fragmentation as observedin western democracies in the last decades. The data come from 380 Dutchmunicipalities during the 2014 Dutch municipal council elections. In 133 ofthem a VAA was available. Using a moderated mediation model that controlsfor the municipal self-selection of a VAA, we find that a VAA by itself leads tohigher levels of volatility and fragmentation. However, VAA availability has adampening effect in municipal constituencies with characteristics (e.g.population size, ethnic diversity, young average age) that would otherwisemake them more susceptible and prone to volatility and fragmentation.