Domenico Fruncillo

Electoral Heuristics and the Formation of Political Orientations: A Study of Exchange Vote Proposals

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Faced with the erosion of traditional political allegiances, scholars have tried to identify the factors and dynamics that shape political and electoral orientations. This paper illustrates the results of a research project that evaluates the process-es through which citizens form attitudes and make decisions about elections. In particular, the use of «heuristics» is discussed, relating to the ways in which individuals orient themselves in complex situations and quickly make decisions. The willingness of a candidate to exchange votes for favours and protection represents one specific, and highly important heuristic. By observing a simulated municipal election, we analyse the characteristics of those who adopt this framework and assess how it influences their judgements about candidates. We simultaneously explore the role of socio-economic position, political sophistication and long-term political tendencies. We hypothesise and test whether use of the heuristic is more common amongst those with lower educational attainments, living in the South, with lower levels of competence, less interest in politics and a weaker ideological stance.


  • Heuristics
  • Exchange Vote
  • Political Culture
  • Italy
  • Simulated Election


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