Development and Consequences of Referendum Campaigns in Switzerland, 1981-1999

Authors

  • Lionel Marquis,

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Berne and University of Basel
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    • Lionel Marquis received his PhD from the University of Geneva in 2002. In 2003–2005 he led a nationally funded research project on Swiss European integration at the University of Bern. Since 2008 he has been a lecturer and researcher in political science at the University of Lausanne. His research interests comprise Swiss foreign and social policy, political behaviour and political psychology.

  • Manfred Max Bergman

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Berne and University of Basel
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    • Manfred Max Bergman is Professor of Research Methods and Political Sociology at the University of Basel. His research interests include stratification, social capital, work and education, as well as qualitative and quantitative research methods. His book “Advances in Mixed Methods Research” recently appeared with Sage. He is co-applicant and head of project of the national panel study TREE.


Institute of Political and International Studies, University of Lausanne, Anthropole, CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland. Phone: +41 (0)21 692 31 56; Email: Lionel.Marquis@unil.ch.

Institute for Sociology, University of Basel, Petersgraben 27, CH-4051 Basel, Switzerland. Phone:+41 (0)61 267 28 12; Email: Max.Bergman@unibas.ch.

Abstract

Since the early 1990s, new forms of referendum campaigns have emerged in the Swiss political arena. In this paper, we examine how referendum campaigns have transformed in Switzerland, focusing on a number of features: their intensity, duration and inclusiveness (i.e., the variety of actors involved). These features are assumed to change in the long run in response to societal changes and in the short run as a function of variations in elite support. We further argue that public knowledge of ballot issues depends on the characteristics of campaigns. To formally test our hypotheses, we draw on advertisement campaigns in six major Swiss newspapers in the four weeks preceding each ballot from 1981 to 1999 and develop a structural equation model. We indeed find that the duration of referendum campaigns has increased over time, while their inclusiveness has decreased. Most importantly, we find that pub­lic knowledge is strongly related to the characteristics of campaigns.

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