Economic Voting and Multilevel Governance: A Comparative Individual-Level Analysis


  • An earlier version of this article was presented at the 2003 Annual Meetings of the Canadian Political Science Association. The author is grateful to Andre Blais, Stuart Soroka, and, in particular, Elisabeth Gidengil for reading and providing valuable comments on earlier versions of this article. The author wishes to acknowledge the support of the Graduate Program in the Department of Political Science at McGill University where the research and writing of this article was conducted. Finally, the author thanks the Journal's anonymous reviewers for insightful comments and suggestions.

Cameron D. Anderson is the Skelton-Clark Post-Doctoral Fellow in Canadian Affairs, Department of Political Studies, Queen's University, Kingston, Canada K7L 3N6 (


An important component of incumbent support is the reward/punishment calculus of economic voting. Previous work has shown that “clarity of responsibility” within the central state government conditions national economic effects on incumbent vote choice: where clarity is high (low), economic effects are greater (less). This article advances the “clarity of responsibility” argument by considering the effect of multilevel governance on economic voting. In institutional contexts of multilevel governance, the process of correctly assigning responsibility for economic outcomes can be difficult. This article tests the proposition that multilevel governance mutes effects of national economic conditions by undermining responsibility linkages to the national government. Individual-level data from the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems Module 1 are used to test this proposition. Results demonstrate that economic voting is weakest in countries where multilevel governance is most prominent. Findings are discussed in light of the contribution to the economic voting literature and the potential implications of multilevel governance.