THE IMPACT OF THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC FACTORS ON THE ELECTORAL BEHAVIOU R IN YOU NG EU MEMBER STATES: PROBLEM-PO SING AND METHODOLOGICAL APP ROACH. THE CASE OF LATVIA AND ESTONIA
In representative democracies elections are one of the mostly widely used conventional forms of political participation, whereas electoral activity is among the most important factors for development of a civic society particularly important for new EU member states. The economic voting theory stresses that successful work of political parties in the government results in increase of economic indicators and overall growth of the state increases the level of well-being of its people, by also leaving a positive impact upon the eventual re-election chances. The most popular indicators for researching the impact of the economic situation upon the electoral choice are: GDP per capita, unemployment rate, price increase or the inﬂation rate. During the last years in scientiﬁc literature signiﬁcant attention is paid to the analysis and forecasting of dynamic series of macroeconomic indices. Application of quantitative methods in political science is inhibited by the large amount of narrative information which is difﬁcult to quantify for the further processing. Research has been carried out in relation to the Saeima elections in 1995, 1998, 2002 and 2006 in Latvia and elections of Riigikogu in 1995, 1999, 2003 and 2007 in Estonia. The economic voting trends have been determined by means of a time series model GARCH (p,q) (Generalized Auto Regressive Conditional Heteroskedasticity) using statistics on the number of votes given to parties which were represented in the previous coalition from the total number of votes given in Latvia and Estonia, the number of votes given to the opposition parties of the previous government, newly established parties and parties that have failed to obtain the required number of votes for entering the parliament in Latvia and Estonia, average inﬂation rate in the country, changes in the unemployment rate per year, GDP per capita, expressed as changes in real prices in USD per year, changes in the average gross salary per year. Autocorrelation function ratio values have been used for more convenient data analysis. The research shows that the comparative analysis the analysis of dynamic series of macroeconomic index which characterize the economic process in question and causations of political behaviour can be successfully used. Although the socio-economic factors in the aggregate are to be considered a determinant of electoral choice and especially manifest such are in Estonia, thereby making conclude that the economic voting theory in this country coincides with the electoral practice, however in Latvia this can be observed only partially.