The chapter takes its point of departure from the fact that corruption is by definition an illegitimate activity and therefore likely to remain hidden. If revealed, therefore, it may give rise to scandal. But corruption and scandal are related in complex ways. In order to disentangle them the chapter considers, first, a working definition of scandal as this makes it possible to identify its main characteristics and thus the conditions that have to be fulfilled in order for a scandal to be ignited. It then considers how scandals are brought into being, what their consequences are and how, through the mass media, they unfold. Its argument is that having a comprehensive understanding of the significance of corruption as a phenomenon requires an exploration of how the political scandal it may produce typically develops, as it is through scandal that corruption has some of its most significant impacts.
Political scientists have conventionally distinguished between advanced liberal democracies; communist and post-communist states, and so-called third-world countries. Though used less frequently than was once the case, the groups or ones like them are distinguished because drawing general conclusions about the nature of political life requires being able to categorise in order to compare countries; and because, broadly speaking, the groups mark broad distinctions tending to correlate with a range of variables including political corruption. Placing, then, the liberal democracies of Western Europe in one category and the former communist countries of Europe, plus Russia, in another reveals that corruption is a larger problem in the latter part of the world than it is in the former. Against this background, the chapter looks at the historical context of corruption during the communist era. It then provides an overview of the extent of corruption in the post-communist era and of the variations in its extent between the states concerned –before explaining the distinctive reasons for the development of these levels of corruption, assessing their impact and looking at what is being done and needs to be done to reduce levels of corruption.
Distinguishing between less developed, or developing, countries, on the one hand, and newly industrialised countries (NICs) on the other, the chapter discusses, first, the extent and causes of corruption in these countries; second the effects of corruption there, and finally, attempts to combat it. The chapter argues that the problems of corruption in the two types of country are of a somewhat different order of magnitude deriving, ultimately, from their distinctive characteristics. These are, in the case of the developing countries, limited manufacturing sectors; dependence on raw materials, or agricultural commodities, for export earnings (and therefore unusually heavily reliance on world markets over which they have little control); weak states. In the NICs, stronger states have enabled them to undergo rapid industrialisation and urbanisation such as to lead them, in terms of (what is often export-led) growth, to outpace their developing-country counterparts. Consequently, relatively high levels of corruption in the NICs have not been as strong a break on economic and social improvement as they have in the developing countries.
This chapter evaluates the extent to which ideology may now matter more in Irish elections than before. It does so by analysing the relationship between the ideological positions of parties and vote choice, and by developing a dimensional mapping of ideological space based on rankings in the mock ballots. The principal conclusion is that while it may still be the case that ideology does not play a lead role in Irish politics, perhaps now it might be seen at least as ‘a supporting actor’. It remains the case that ideological positioning does not separate the two largest Irish parties, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil; however, ideology does determine whether someone might vote for either or neither of these parties. On average, Irish voters select parties that are ideologically close to them on a left–right scale, most prominently so for voters on the left of the spectrum where left versus right does matter in their choice between parties. Overall, from a comparative perspective, the Irish case may appear more conventional in terms of left–right competition than is typically assumed; it also has an undercurrent of anti-globalization that is similar to that found in other European states.
In 2016, Ireland joined over fifty countries worldwide in the adoption of candidate gender quotas, and it became the first case of a country doing so under the single transferable vote electoral system. Its impact was evident from the dramatic rise in the number of women candidates fielded in this election – 163, as compared with 86 in 2011. This chapter builds on previous research of the Irish case to assess whether the use of gender quotas had any impact on voters’ attitudes towards women candidates. The analyses of INES data in previous elections found no evidence of voter prejudice against female candidates. There could be reason to expect that this might change in the light of gender quotas. The introduction of the quota in 2016 was a significant ‘shock’ to the system: Parties were forced to find a large number of women candidates very quickly, so the recruitment pool was likely to have more ‘average’ women in it. Given this context, the chapter tests for true bias among the Irish electorate. The analysis reveals little evidence of this on the whole, apart from the slight exception of Fianna Fáil, whose supporters revealed some male bias. Apart from that partial exception, the findings generally are consistent with previous studies: What matters most is how well the candidate is known, and therefore it is incumbency that is the main factor, not the sex of the candidate.
This chapter sets the scene for the chapters that follow. We start by presenting a short background to the 2016 Irish general election – the most dramatic election in modern times and the first since Ireland’s emergence from the Great Recession. The chapter starts by describing the features of the 2016 Irish National Election Study (INES), a unique dataset on Irish voter behaviour gathered by the Irish political science community (and the fourth such study since 2002). It then outlines the key themes addressed in the book, related to changing partisan identities, issue mobilization, ideological dimensions, party system change, populism and generational effects. This is followed by an overview of each of the chapters.
Chapter 2 makes use of mock-ballot data gathered in an exit poll of voters as they were leaving the polling station. This allows a unique analysis of voting behaviour in Ireland’s unusual single transferable vote electoral system. The chapter examines the stability in first preference voting behaviour in 2016 and how this has changed since before the financial crisis. The chapter also explores the patterns of lower preferences and what they might mean for the party system. Finally, it addresses whether preferences mattered in terms of the number of seats a party won in 2016. The analysis shows that the erosion of party allegiances that were so evident in the 2011 election has continued. Even though the worst of the financial crisis had abated, large numbers of voters continued to switch votes from one party to another in 2016. Second, there is the intriguing finding of the emergence of two parallel party systems in terms of the transfer of voter preferences, with voters on the right transferring votes between the main established parties while those on the left transferred between non-established parties.
This chapter presents the first dedicated study of party attachment in Ireland in the wake of the economic crisis. Previous research shows that party identification has historically been an important factor in Irish voting behaviour, though – much like in other democracies – it began to decline from the 1980s onwards. This chapter examines how party attachment has evolved in recent elections. The core question it seeks to answer is whether the electoral turbulence in 2011 and 2016 was simply a symptom of a fundamentally dealigned electorate, or whether we are witnessing a realignment in Irish politics. In other words, has the number of floating voters increased in the wake of the crisis, or have people begun to form new party attachments that are likely to shape elections in the future? The analysis shows that while party attachments were ruptured in 2011 (most notably so in the case of Fianna Fáil), in 2016, by contrast, partisanship increased, and there were some interesting trends among young voters in particular, with many of them beginning to form new allegiances.
This chapter examines the significance of candidates in Irish elections. The act of voting is often judged to be party-centred, but in Ireland it is generally seen as taking place through the prism of candidates: Parties select their candidates with care to take account of that; candidate-centred behaviour is also shown by the large and growing number of independents elected in recent Irish elections – in record numbers in 2016. The importance of party versus candidate has been examined in previous studies: this chapter brings the discussion up to date for 2016. The financial crisis had a number of political impacts, and one was to increase the importance of party vis-à-vis candidate in 2011. This was because national issues, which parties are more capable of dealing with than individual candidates, became of greater importance. With the gradual recovery of the Irish economy in the latter half of the tenure of the Fine Gael–Labour coalition, this chapter considers whether the dynamics of party and candidate were altered as a result. The analysis shows that voters have returned to the more familiar habit of candidate-centred ballot choices, though significant party-centred behaviour persists.
This chapter concentrates on when voters make their voting decisions, paying particular attention to the campaign period. It starts by arguing that knowing when decisions are made is a vital part of understanding how elections work. The evidence presented demonstrates that a growing proportion of voters report making their final vote choice during election campaigns. Modern election campaigns with their manifesto launches, party leader debates and intense scrutiny of opinion polls matter a great deal. These campaigns work by raising awareness of new parties and candidates and providing vital information on the policy positions of competing actors. The analysis reveals that they are decisive in shaping voter decisions. Young people, women and urban voters are more likely to arrive at their final vote choice during the campaign period and, importantly, voters who decide during the campaign are also more likely to have changed their preference from the previous election. These findings have important implications for the political system. They provide further evidence of the challenges parties face in building long-term allegiance among their voters. Furthermore, it is also clear that election results may become more unpredictable as larger proportions of voters arrive at their final decision close to election day, making early campaign opinion polls more problematic as predictors of final outcomes.