With the UK’s political parties fighting a snap election in a political landscape against the backdrop of Brexit, campaign techniques used at the constituency level are likely to differ from previous elections – and a group of political scientists are researching exactly how.
The research group, led by Professor Justin Fisher, Head of the Social & Political Sciences Department at Brunel University London, has been awarded a grant by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to study constituency campaigning at next month’s election.
The study will investigate the impact the sudden election has on campaign techniques – especially digital methods, the focus on local versus national campaign issues, and the impact of the Brexit crisis on campaigning.
“The sudden calling of a snap election means that much of the long-term infrastructure planning that accompanies a regularly timed election will not be in place for any of the parties,” said Prof Fisher.
“All parties will need to make more use of members at a local level, and the reduced timeline is likely to mean that e-campaigning will be utilised to an even greater degree.”
Challenges for major parties at the national level mean that constituency campaigning is looking to be more significant than usual for this general election. With Brexit as a dominant theme there will be heightened potential for strategic vote switching at the constituency level, and as a consequence, the constituency-level campaigns are likely to be particularly important.
The research will also identify how new parties without an established infrastructure, such as the Brexit Party, fare in campaigns, and will factor in the increased number of MPs who have either changed party or are standing as independents in this election.
The research team are made up of Brunel’s Prof Fisher, The University of Manchester’s Prof Edward Fieldhouse and the University of Birmingham’s Prof David Cutts.
Simone McNichols-Thomas, Media Relations
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