Ideology, cleavages, and voting behaviour in 2009 and 2013 regional elections in Slovakia
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When explaining electoral behaviour, cleavage theory with its practical consequences constitutes a traditional question in established Western democracies, but is just emerging in post-socialist countries of Central and Eastern Europe. The general objective of this study is to identify the spatial patterns of election results and inter-electoral shifts in support of politico-ideological blocs (measured by distribution of mandates, gained by parties at 2009 and 2013 regional elections) at the level of self-governing regions of Slovakia, and evaluate the impact of socio-political cleavages that these territorial discrepancies within the country are caused by. Elections for regional self-government held in Slovakia in 2013 are properly evaluated, when a total of 408 regional MPs were delegated to parliaments of eight NUTS3 level regions. Spatial patterns of numbers and inter-electoral changes of the mandates gained by individual political blocs representing the right wing, etatist stream, parties of ethnic orientation, so-called ‘Slovak coalition’ and independent candidates are displayed not only at the regional scale, but also at the hierarchically lower level of election districts (with 90 territorial units). For regional elections, socio-economic and ethnic cleavages are considered the most important determinants of spatial differentiation related to the voting behaviour of the electorate, and then distribution of power in regional politics, but the phenomenon of independent candidates has the potential to compete with their explanatory value increasingly.