This is the first of our Collaborator Introduction series, where CSES collaborators discuss their research agenda and how they became involved with CSES.
Lithuania is Joining the CSES Project
Lithuania is joining the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES) collaborative program of research by integrating the CSES Module 5 in their 2016 post-election survey. Lithuania has not been represented in the CSES project since Module 1. Lithuania was invited to join the CSES for Module 5 after a successful collaboration with CSES members in the True European Voter COST Action.
The first Lithuanian National Election Study was carried out in 2012 after their parliamentary elections. The study included a face-to-face post-election survey, an Internet panel survey, mass media monitoring during the electoral campaign, and a survey of candidates for the Lithuanian parliament. The main purpose of the first study was to test if and to what extent the classical theories of electoral behavior could explain electoral choices of Lithuanian citizens. The results have posed as many new questions as they have answered.
Why are voters’ age and political sophistication better predictors of electoral behavior in Lithuania than such conventional factors as income, social class or religiosity? Why is left-right self-identification weakening instead of getting stronger in Lithuanian society, and why do right-wing self-identifiers vote for left-wing parties? Why does party identification get stronger with age rather than with years of democratic experience as expected? These are just a few puzzling national trends to be explored.
The current research steps further into the ‘jungle’ of post-communist identity and political behavior, building on the results of the first national election study, and the Lithuanian team members’ longstanding experience in research on political attitudes and civic engagement, including their historico-anthropological research on Lithuanian everyday life, social networking and cultural resistance during the Soviet period.
What is different about the post-communist voter and why? This is the main question of the 2016 Lithuanian National Election study. What can we learn from the ‘natural laboratory’ of political development of partisan clues and identities in a newly born, so called post-class, post-colonial polity based on rules of post-modern political marketing? Will multiplying practices of political clientelism and political personalisation overcome the game of programmatic politics and distort the cleavage-based electoral competition? These and related questions guide the Lithuanian team’s research which is expected to culminate into a book for European and international audiences.
Ainė Ramonaitė is a professor at the Institute of International Relations and Political Science, Vilnius University. Her research areas include electoral behaviour, political attitudes, civil society and social networks. She is leading the Lithuanian National Election Study.