These are based on studies conducted by the Center for Research into Elections and Social Trends (CREST). This section will also deal with the changes in voting behaviour patterns that have been observed in Britain, and how changes in social and economic systems can impact voter behaviour.
The next section will deal with the common theoretical frameworks used in the analysis of voting behaviour. Based on the discussions in the book, 'Political Choice in Britain' (2004), by Clarke, Sanders, Stewart and Whiteley, this part will deal with the traditional sociological framework, followed by the individual rationalist approach. Widening the scope of the individual rationalist approach, the focus will shift to what are termed valence politics models.
In the next section, these models will be used to analyse the voting behaviour patterns in the 2001 and 2005 general elections. This section will also discuss the issues of voter apathy and the growing trend towards tactical voting.
The paper will conclude with a discussion on the changing patterns of voter behaviour in Britain, and will also discuss how these can be very essential in predicting the outcome of future elections in Britain.
A key factor influencing voter behaviour is social attitude. ...
Discussing voting behaviour, the CREST studies note that the social class remains a key influence on how people vote. Curtice (2002) states that this is in line with Pulzer's famous words, "Class is the basis of British politics; all else is embellishment and detail". The studies also note that a voter's behaviour is not motivated by self-interest and that the media, especially newspapers, have little influence on the election results. The studies also note the emergence of tactical voting as a means of expressing preferences.
Changes in social attitudes and voting behaviour are a result of changing social and economic conditions. In the 21st century, the common man in Britain does not enjoy the social and economic certainty and cohesion that characterized life in the 1950s. The employment position is less secure, and the society he/she lives in is more diverse. In modern Britain, class boundaries are more fluid, and the average citizen has access to several sources of information, and the right to make the appropriate social and economic choices. (Clarke, Sanders, Stewart and Whiteley,2004, pg.2)
The socio-economic changes have had an impact on the political thinking of the citizens as well. The biggest impact has perhaps been on the attitude of the British citizens towards politics, especially in how they vote at the time of elections. To understand the changes in voting patterns, the models of voting behaviour need to be studied.
Models of Voting Behaviour
There are several theoretical frameworks that analyse voting behaviour in elections. The foremost among them is the sociological framework proposed by Butler and Stokes in 1969. This framework works on three levels. To begin with,