Abstract

We investigate differences in the factors influencing citizens’ votes between elections conducted in established and new democracies using data collected at the 2004 European Parliament elections, comparing 7 former communist countries with 13 established democracies. Despite contrary expectations in some of the extant literature, voters in ‘new’ democracies make their political choices in ways that are very similar to the decision processes found in more established democracies. The only systematic difference is that voters in post-communist countries are somewhat less likely to make use of ideological location as a cue to the policy orientations of political parties. Perhaps in compensation, somewhat greater relative use in those countries is made of cues from social structure (particularly religion) and from issues.