Electoral Resolution and Atmosphere / from Hope to Hostility

Friday 8 December 2023

Bruter, Michael, and Sarah Harrison. 2020. In Inside the Mind of a Voter, 263–90. Princeton University Press.

Reflecting on recent electoral developments, that have led to a lack of straightforward majorities and shifts in traditional alliances, the authors examine whether elections still reduce conflicts within society by giving voters temporary closure and a sense of democratic resolution. Using multiple case studies across France, the UK and the US, the authors measure “electoral atmosphere”, finding high degrees of negativity as well as emotional and personal attachments, especially by the end of the election cycle. According to the authors, elections usually provide satisfaction with the democratic process and reconciliation, not only for those whose electoral preferences have been vindicated. But this phenomenon, the “electoral honeymoon,” has been declining since the late 2010s, leading to an increasingly personal perception of other voters and more electoral hostility. This coincides with the rise in populist voting; elections are less likely to bring a sense of resolution concerning incompatible sets of values and desired futures, especially where the ideas of the other are seen as illegitimate. This leads to voters no longer feeling closure after elections and the danger of them not feeling bound by the outcomes of democratic processes. This can be seen as a grave danger for peaceful living in democratic societies as well as something that must be actively tackled in order to further the effects of inner peace on the electorate.

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