How Far is the City? Geographical Remoteness and Voting Behaviour in Italy and France

Lorenzo De Sio, Cristiano Vezzoni


Operationalizations of the Rokkanian centre-periphery cleavage have traditionally focused on the presence of specific regional political cultures, as well as on cultural fragmentation within a country (at the aggregate level) or on proxy indicators such as town size (at the individual level). We suggest that geographical remoteness from political centres – a key element of the centre-periphery cleavage in the Rokkanian framework – could provide a more accurate measurement of the subjective position of individuals in relationship to the cleavage. As new indicators of this concept, we introduce measures of distance between the place of residence of a citizen and political centres at different hierarchical levels, based on road distances and travel times along traditional roads (also accounting for differences in orography and geography among different countries and regions). We empirically test the impact of such indicators on vote choice on the Italian and French cases. We use survey data from the 2006 ITANES and the 2002 PEF, and information about road distances and travel times obtained through online mapping/routing services. We first assess differences between the two countries in terms of orography and geography. We then estimate multivariate models of vote choice at the individual level, in order to te st the following hypotheses: a) that the new indicators add significant explanatory power, compared to traditional indicators related to the centre-periphery cleavage; b) that the new indicators have different effects on vote choice for different parties, expressing different affinities of these parties with the cleavage.