Political Incivility in the Age of Affective Polarization: A Comparative Investigation into the Perceptions and Effects of Political Incivility in Democratic Elections

Auteur Chiara VARGIU
Directeur /trice Dr. Diego Garzia
Co-directeur(s) /trice(s)
Résumé de la thèse

As politics has gotten “nastier” much attention has been devoted to candidates’ use of uncivil form of communication in election campaigns. However, the literature is only emerging, it is still inconsistent, and mostly US-centric. Based on the assumptions the incivility is highly contextual, and its effects are likely driven by how it is perceived, this project concentrates on incivility perceptions and their impact on their political attitudes and electoral behavior in the context of multiparty elections in Western European democracies. I set four main research goals. Firstly, building on the literature of affective polarization (i.e. voters’ tendency to feel sympathy towards in-parties and antagonism towards out-parties), I assess the role of positive and negative partisanships in shaping incivility perceptions. Secondly, I test if incivility perceptions matter for candidate evaluation and electoral behavior. Special attention is given to the potential of incivility perceptions to foster a “dark” form of electoral participation, whereby voters consider their electoral choice as a vote against opponents. Thirdly, I move beyond experimental research by relying on observational data to better understand incivility perceptions and their effects in the “real-world”, rather than in laboratory settings. Fourthly, I validate US measures of incivility on the Western European public. These research interests are pursued through original comparative public opinion data collected within the framework of “The Rise of Negative Voting” project funded by an Eccellenza Professorial Fellowship of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), headed by my supervisor, Prof. Diego Garzia.

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Délai administratif de soutenance de thèse 2024
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