As part of its call for an internationally collaborative program of
cross-national electoral research, in March 1994 the International Committee
for Research into Elections and Representative Democracy (ICORE) circulated to
directors of election studies in 63 consolidated and emerging democracies a
stimulus paper, "The Comparative Study of Electoral Systems."
1 That paper
identified several themes around which collaborative data collection might be
organized, sketched a study design, and suggested how the planning process
might unfold. A Steering Committee (comprised of Jacques Thomassen, Steven J.
Rosenstone, Hans-Dieter Klingemann, and John Curtice) invited colleagues to
comment on the paper and to participate in an initial planning conference held
on August 20-21, 1994 in Berlin at the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin fur
Sozialforschung. Eighty-five social scientists from 44 different polities
responded with comments and suggestions that were summarized in a second
paper, "Comments on: 'The Comparative Study of Electoral Systems.'"
Colleagues from around the world expressed enthusiasm for this endeavor,
endorsed the proposal for international collaboration, and indicated a
willingness to join in the creation of a module of survey questions that would
be asked in their respective national election studies.
Fifty social scientists, representing 31 consolidated and emerging democracies, participated in the Berlin Planning Conference. Discussion focused on seven topics: 3
The purpose of this report is to summarize the deliberations in Berlin as they
pertain to the study design, study content, and study planning process.
Deliberations in Berlin produced agreement on a set of principles,
processes, and standards that would guide the Comparative Study of Electoral
The Comparative Study of Electoral Systems will focus on the nature
of electoral choice in democratic polities (consolidated
democracies, those undergoing transitions to democracy, and those
that are recovering from recent democratic breakdowns).
Beginning in 1996, collaborators will include in their national
election studies a module of common questionnaire content. The
module will contain about 20 questions (about 10 minutes in length)
and will be asked in its entirety in a post-election survey.
Beyond the module of common context, there may be a second, optional
module containing additional survey questions.
Collaborators will also provide data on a (to be specified) set of
demographic characteristics of respondents, coded to be agreed upon
set of standards.
Collaborators will aspire to a (to be specified) set of scientific
standards concerning sample quality, study administration, and the
All collaborators will be able to participate broadly in setting the
substantive agenda for the study, in specifying the
questionnaire module, and in specifying the demographic and macro-
level data to be collected.
A Planning Committee will meet in Ann Arbor, Michigan (USA) in
January 1995 and is charged with formulating recommendations on:
Members of the Planning Committee are: Rita Bajarunieni
(Lithuania), John Curtice (United Kingdom), Juan Diez Nicolas
(Spain), Oscar Hernandez (Costa Rica), Soren Holmberg (Sweden),
Hans-Dieter Klingemann (Germany), Marta Lagos (Chile), Filipe B.
Miranda (Philippines), Yoshitaka Nishizawa (Japan), Steven J.
Rosenstone (United States), Jacques Thomassen (Netherlands), and
Gabor Toka (Hungary).
In addition, several colleagues will serve as consultants to the
Planning Committee: Gary Cox (University of California, San Diego),
Herbert Kitschelt (Duke University and Humboldt University), Ekkehard
Mochmann (Zentralarchiv fur empirische Sozialforschung), Richard
Rockwell (Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social
Research), Herman Schmitt (European Election Study), and W. Phillips
Shively (Comparative Political Data Board).
Prior to its January 1995 meeting, the Planning Committee will
solicit from all collaborators advice on the priorities that should
be assigned to the study themes, questionnaire content, demographic
variables, and macro-level data. The Planning Committee will also
gather information on the study designs that are employed by
election studies around the world.
Following its January 1995 meeting, the Planning Committee will
circulate its recommendations to all collaborators to elicit
comments and suggestions.
All collaborators will be invited to participate in a second
Planning Conference that will be convened in the Spring of 1995
(before the pilot work) to further refine and reach consensus on the
Planning Committee's recommendations.
The American National Election Study, with funding from the U.S.
National Science Foundation, will provide the initial administrative
support for the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems and for the
Planning Committee's activities.
The Planning Committee will identify collaborators who are willing
to pilot the questionnaire module and who will disseminate the pilot
data in a timely fashion.
In the summer of 1996, pilot studies will be conducted in a diverse
set of polities to test the module of survey questions.
The Planning Committee is responsible for analyzing the pilot data
and for formulating recommendations for revisions of the
questionnaire module. This analysis should be conducted during the
fall of 1995. The Committee's recommendations should be circulated
to all collaborators for comment. Final revisions to the
questionnaire module should be completed by January 1996.
In each democracy, indigenous teams of researchers will conduct a
national election survey that includes a common module of questions
and demographic variables.
Each team of researchers will be responsible for securing funding to
finance their national data collection, though the Planning
Committee will make efforts to identify sources of support that may
subvent the costs of individual or multiple data collections.
Teams of researchers will collect macro-level data. Some of these
data may be collected in each country by the researchers collecting
the survey data. Some of these data may be collected by separate
teams of researchers working cross-nationally.
DATA ARCHIVING AND DISSEMINATION
Each team of researchers will deposit its data in a central archive
in a timely fashion in accordance with a (to be specified) set of
Each team of researchers will provide documentation for its data as
well as documentation about the sampling process, response rate, and
Micro- and macro-level data from all polities will be merged into a
single, cross-national data set.
Data will be placed in the public domain in a timely fashion.
The questionnaire module developed for the initial collaboration
will be asked in national elections held between 1996 and 1999.
Planning for the next round of collaboration will begin in 1997.
The second, and subsequent rounds may focus on a subset of the
themes covered in the first collaboration, or it may focus on an
entirely different set of themes.
THE SUBSTANTIVE AGENDA
The initial stimulus paper, written responses to that paper, and discussion at
the Berlin Planning Conference identified three broad themes around which this
collaborative effort might be organized:
The initial stimulus paper developed the first two themes in some detail (see
pp. 1-8; 10-11). The third theme surfaced in several of the written responses
to the stimulus paper (see pp. 10-11 of "Comments on . . .") and in discussion
at Berlin. Few colleagues (either in their written comments or in Berlin)
expressed much enthusiasm for collaborating around a fourth theme articulated
in the initial stimulus paper -- the role that political parties play in
encapsulating political conflict around economic, racial, ethnic, and
Discussion at the Berlin Planning Conference did not further develop the
theoretical underpinnings of these lines of inquiry, nor was any effort made
to reach consensus on the priority the Planning Committee should assign to
each theme. Instead, conference participants elaborated on the kind of survey
questions, demographic information, and macro-level data that might be
developed in service to the three themes. The ideas to emerge from this
discussion are as follows:
I. SOCIAL CLEAVAGES
Demographic Characteristics of Respondents that Should be Coded in a
II. PERCEPTIONS OF THE LEGITIMACY OF DEMOCRACY
- state structure v. regime structure
- linkages to the political system
- trust in institutions (parties, church, etc.)
- tolerance for authoritarian government
- support for democracy
- trust in electoral commission
- attachment to the political system
Conference participants emphasized the need for instrumentation that will
successfully distinguish among evaluations of the economy, government, regime,
democratic structures, and parliament.
III. POLITICAL PARTIES
EVALUATION OF PARTIES
Several Conference participants questioned whether we should focus on
political parties alone or whether we should also focus on social movements.
IV. KNOWLEDGE, INFORMATION, INTEREST
V. PARTICIPATION AND ELECTORAL CHOICE
VI. MACRO-LEVEL DATA
Berlin Planning Conference Create Planning Committee
October 1994: Circulate Report Summarizing Berlin Meeting
October 1994 - December 1994:
January 26-29, 1995: Meeting of Planning Committees in Ann Arbor, Michigan
February 1995: Planning Committee's Recommendations Circulated for Comment
Spring 1995: Second Conference of all Collaborators to be Convened
Summer 1995: Pilot Studies Fielded
Fall 1995: Pilot Data Distributed, Analyzed, Pilot Study Reports Written and Circulated
January 1996: Set Final Study Specifications