Kalendarium

Natural Disasters and National Election: On the 2004 Indian Ocean Boxing Day Tsunami, the 2005 Storm Gudrun and the 2006 Historic Regime Shift

  • Datum: 2017-05-20 kl 13:15
  • Plats: Sal 3576, Statsvetenskapliga institutionen, Gamla torget 6, Uppsala
  • Föreläsare: Eriksson, Lina M.
  • Webbsida
  • Arrangör: Statsvetenskapliga institutionen
  • Kontaktperson: Eriksson, Lina M.
  • Disputation

Natural Disasters and National Election makes the novel contribution of proposing two natural disasters, the Indian Ocean’s 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami and 2005 Storm Gudrun (Erwin), which struck only two weeks following the tsunami, as major events that impacted Swedish government popularity in the 2006 election and contributed to the redistribution of voter support, within and across party-blocs.

The 2006 Swedish parliamentary election was a historic election with the largest bloc transfer of voters in Swedish history. The 2002-2006 incumbent Social Democratic Party (S) received its lowest voter support since 1914 as roughly 150,000, or 8%, of the 2002 S voters went to the main opposition, the conservative Moderate Party (M). This became the most decisive factor in ousting S from power after 12 years of rule. As a result, the M-led Alliance (A) with the People’s Party (FP), the Center Party (C), and the Christian Democrats (KD) won the election. Natural Disasters and National Election makes the novel contribution of proposing two natural disasters, the Indian Ocean’s 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami and 2005 Storm Gudrun (Erwin), which struck only two weeks following the tsunami, as major events that impacted government popularity in the 2006 election and contributed to the redistribution of voter support, within and across party-blocs. The core findings from this thesis show that the S government’s poor crisis response to Gudrun, which is the hitherto most costly natural disaster in Swedish history, alone has an estimated effect of a magnitude that likely contributed to the 2006 historic regime shift, while the tsunami also seems to have mattered. The tsunami is particularly interesting, as S’s poor international crisis response to the event constitutes the first natural disaster situation to knowingly have affected an election on the other side of the planet. Moreover, to some degree voters recognized the active opposition by C as effective representation and rewarded the party for its strong stance on the poor handling of both events by S. In fact, the active voice of C concerning these disasters likely helped move the party from the periphery of party politics to becoming the third-largest party in Swedish politics. In sum, this research investigates accountability and effective party representation via retrospective voting, which is an essential mechanism for the legitimacy of democracy. Findings suggest that the average Swedish voter indeed may be voting retrospectively to hold publically elected officials accountable, which suggest a healthy status of the retrospective voting mechanism and Swedish democracy.