Data Set Description for Chapter 7: CSES

Data Exercise Contributor: Jens Wäckerle

Dataset-Chapter-7.utf8

The Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES) project provides a comparative dataset of election studies and is created by an international team of researchers from around the world. The national research teams include a common set of questions in the national post-elections surveys, such as the British Election Study. This data is combined with electoral variables, demographics, district and national level variables and information on the respective political system. One key advantage of the dataset is that it combines the election studies of a wide range of countries into one single data file and ensures that a considerable number of important questions are asked across these countries in a consistent manner.

A core set of questions remains the same in every survey, but the CSES also incorporates new research topics in its questionnaire, with every of the five-year waves of data collection focusing on a different topic. For instance, the fifth iteration of the project, runs from 2016 to 2021 and is called “Democracy Divided? People, Politicians and the Politics of Populism.”. The subsequent module has specific questions on the topic of “Representative Democracy under Pressure”. Each module comprises a different set of countries, driven, among other aspects by the cooperation of a local team to ensure that a post-election survey is run and the CSES questions are included. Some countries, such as the USA, Germany and Sweden are included in all five modules. The dataset can be accessed here. While reading, please keep in mind the questions you see below and answer them once you reached the end. At the end, we will provide a link to a platform with an interactive version of the dataset and additional tasks.

Table 1: General Tasks for the Dataset
Tasks
How could you use these data to study descriptive representation? Would you need to combine these data with other data? Why?
What about substantive or symbolic representation?
How does measuring populism help us to understand representation?

Dataset Description

Micro-Level Data

The CSES dataset provides data for respondents on three different levels: micro-level (demographic) data, micro-level (survey) data, district level data and macro-level data. Table 2 shows ten randomly drawn respodents from the dataset. Besides the variables shown here, CSES provides data on occupation, race, income, immigration and region/electoral district.

Table 2: Example from the Austria dataset
Year of Birth Gender Education Religion Country
14587 1977 2 4 9999 Hungary
2109 1946 2 3 1101 Austria
14963 1952 1 8 8300 Ireland
5526 1977 1 4 1101 Brazil
23950 1950 2 2 1600 Montenegro
23108 1946 2 8 1101 Lithuania
1086 1975 1 8 9997 Australia
14030 1974 1 4 9999 Hungary
7717 1974 2 4 1299 Germany
17588 1954 1 99 1208 Iceland

Table 3 shows an example of the voting data in the survey section of the dataset. For each of the major party, the survey asks for their left-right self-placement, their perceived placement of the parties on the left-right scale, and how much they like or dislike the parties. Then, it asked for voting decisions in the most recent parliamentary and presidential election, both on the party as well as the district level.

Table 3: Example of voting questions from the German dataset
Vote Choice - Party Left-Right Self-placement Left-Right CDU Left-Right SPD Left-Right Linke Left-Right Gruene Left-Right CSU Left-Right FDP Left-Right AfD Like-Dislike CDU Like-Dislike SPD Like-Dislike Linke Like-Dislike Gruene Like-Dislike CSU Like-Dislike FDP Like-Dislike AfD
other 7 8 6 3 2 9 7 10 9 4 2 7 9 9 0
SPD 4 5 4 2 4 5 5 10 7 8 5 8 5 5 0
other 6 7 5 1 5 7 6 10 10 7 1 8 10 8 0
Gruene 3 7 2 0 3 9 5 10 3 6 5 8 2 4 0
SPD 2 5 2 0 3 7 7 10 4 9 6 8 2 3 0
FDP 5 5 3 0 5 7 5 10 2 2 3 1 3 6 1
SPD 8 1 1 2 1 1 0 8 6 6 5 5 4 5 7
other 4 3 4 1 5 3 6 10 9 8 5 7 7 5 0
SPD 4 5 4 2 4 7 3 10 10 10 7 8 0 8 0
other 3 6 3 3 4 6 8 10 9 10 9 8 10 7 0

In addition to the qustions on voting, the CSES includes a battery of questions in all national post-election surveys that follow a certain theme. In wave 5, this theme is centered around populism. Consequently, Table 4 shows some of the questions on populism from the survey: The respondents were asked to strongly agree, somewhat agree, neither agree not disagree, somewhat disagree or strongly disagree with statements on political elites. In the table, higher values indicate more disagreement with the respective statement.

Table 4: Example of substantive questions from the German dataset
Vote Choice - Party Elites: Compromise Selling Out Elites: Do Not Care Elites: Trustworthy Elites: Main Problem Elites: Strong Leader Elites: People Make Decisions Elites: Rich and Powerful
other 2 4 4 3 4 1 2
SPD 3 4 3 4 5 3 4
other 3 4 1 5 2 4 5
Gruene 5 4 2 5 5 5 3
SPD 4 2 3 3 5 1 2
FDP 5 4 1 5 5 3 5
SPD 3 2 3 3 3 3 1
other 3 3 3 4 5 2 3
SPD 3 3 3 3 5 1 3
other 5 5 2 5 5 5 3

District-Level Data

On the district level, the CSES dataset matches district-level results to the place of residence of the respondent. Table 5 shows an example from Germany. In mixed-systems such as Germany, the CSES always reports the district level vote share in this section, which corresponds to the vote for the district candidate in Germany.

Table 5: Example of district level data from the German dataset
Electoral District District Vote Share CDU E5001_A District Vote Share SPD District Vote Share AfD District Vote Share FDP District Vote Share Linke District Vote Share Gruene District Vote Share CSU
9 41.52 26.76 30.76 7.86 7.32 4.42 6.95 999
62 30.70 26.76 19.61 20.26 4.83 16.42 4.41 999
1 40.00 26.76 28.01 6.21 6.54 7.13 10.52 999
124 51.30 26.76 25.84 6.05 6.58 4.93 5.30 999
156 30.58 26.76 9.97 33.21 5.82 15.25 2.04 999
9 41.52 26.76 30.76 7.86 7.32 4.42 6.95 999
73 33.55 26.76 13.13 23.36 6.62 16.93 2.48 999
44 42.70 26.76 29.97 10.07 5.49 4.91 5.76 999
190 34.43 26.76 15.22 21.17 5.02 15.48 3.15 999
68 36.41 26.76 17.55 16.15 4.91 19.21 3.16 999

Macro-Level Data

On a macro-level, the dataset provides information on electoral results on the national level (votes and seats) for lower and upper houses as well as presidential elections. In the dataset, some countries had parliamentary elections included in the dataset, some presidential, and some both. Table 6 shows 10 individual respondents from the main dataset and the electoral results that were matched based on the country they live in.

Table 6: Example of macro level electoral data from the CSES dataset
Country Vote Party A Vote Party B Seats Party A Seats Party B Vote President A Vote President B Turnout
Lithuania 22.63 22.45 21.99 38.30 997.00 997.00 50.64
Montenegro 41.41 20.32 44.44 22.22 997.00 997.00 73.41
Taiwan 45.08 38.71 60.18 30.97 56.12 31.04 66.25
Ireland 25.52 24.35 31.65 27.85 997.00 997.00 65.09
Australia 36.66 33.34 44.37 45.03 996.00 996.00 91.89
Greece 35.45 28.08 48.33 25.00 997.00 997.00 56.16
United States of America 999.00 999.00 44.60 55.40 48.18 46.09 63.83
France 997.00 997.00 997.00 997.00 24.01 21.30 77.77
Iceland 25.25 16.89 25.40 17.46 997.00 997.00 81.20
Australia 36.66 33.34 44.37 45.03 996.00 996.00 91.89

Table 7 shows some of the data that is available on the party level: Parties are coded by party experts into party families, on the left-right scale and in relation to populism. Additionally, the dataset includes information on whether parties were in parliament, in government and what share of government offices they held.

Table 7: Example of macro level party data from the CSES dataset
Country Portfolios Before Election Party A Portfolios Before Election Party B Portfolios After Election Party A Portfolios After Election Party B Ideological Family Party A Ideological Family Party B
Germany 7 6 7 6 8 4
Italy 0 16 8 0 15 4
Iceland 6 0 6 3 9 3
Chile 0 0 5 5 9 9
Norway 0 11 0 9 4 9
Norway 0 11 0 9 4 9
Australia 20 0 20 0 9 4
Iceland 5 0 6 0 9 3
Germany 7 6 7 6 8 4
Australia 20 0 20 0 9 4

Additionally, the dataset contains a multitude of variables describing the electoral system, such as whether there is compulsory voting, whether there are party thresholds or which voting system (e.g. party lists, single member districts,…) is used. An of the CSES dataset is that all data is available in one dataset so researchers can combine individual-level survey data and macro-level information in a coherent manner.

Interactive Activity

Here, you will find an interactive version of the CSES dataset and several questions to answer and discuss. We suggest you open this app on a laptop or tablet. Enjoy!

The book introduces students to the most current theoretical and empirical research on European politics, and it does so in a highly accessible way through examples and data visualizations.

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