Election studies are an important tool for understanding how representative democracy works in practice. From the beginning, ICENES has focused on analysing how party identification, voters’ attitudes concerning important issues and socioeconomic status relates to vote choice in elections. Emphasis has also been placed on analysing the attitudes of candidates and political parties, as well as shedding light on whether and how the election campaign affects the attitudes and electoral behaviour of voters. The questions in ICENES cover among other things voters’ assessment of parties and their leaders, voters’ and candidates' ideology (e.g. right – left) and their attitudes on diverse issues (e.g. taxation, public sector, welfare system, foreign affairs, regional affairs and immigrants). Political participation, other than voting has also been mapped, as well as attitudes and expectations towards democracy, political trust and other important issues related to politics.

For the data to be comparable between electoral years and between election studies in other countries, consistency in questions has been maintained between ICENES studies since 1983.  The post-electoral voter survey thus forms a database that comprises the longest running comparable survey data available within the social sciences in Iceland. Numerous articles, books and chapters written by domestic and foreign scholars have been based on ICENES where the Icelandic reality is in the foreground or where the Icelandic data forms part of an international comparison.

Study Components

ICENES was first conducted in 1983 when a survey was fielded among voters after the Icelandic parliamentary election that year. Since then, a post-electoral voter survey of ICENES has been conducted after each parliamentary election.

The data is accessible in open access on the DATICE website.

A survey among voters during the election campaign was first conducted in 2016 and has been repeated ever since then.

Data from the election campaign survey will be available in open access on the DATICE (is. GAGNÍS) website.

The candidate survey has been conducted following each Icelandic parliamentary election since 2009. The survey is sent to all candidates that are on the candidate list of the political parties that have been elected to parliament.

To access the data, you can send an email to the ICENES team (icenes@hi.is) to apply for access. If access is granted, users must sign a confidentiality agreement regarding the handling and use of the data.

International cooperation

ICENES has throughout the years participated in international collaborative projects on electoral research, most notably the Comparative Studies off Electoral Systems (CSES), Comparative Candidate Survey (CCS), True European Voter (TEV), Monitoring Electoral Democracy (MEDem), the Nordic Electoral Democracy (NED) and most recently the Consortium for National Election Studies (CNES).

CSES, which is a cooperation platform for election studies in more than 50 countries, was founded in 1999, and ICENES has been involved from its start. As part of this cooperation, a post electoral questionnaire from CSES is provided, which is comparable between participating countries. The CSES questionnaire is divided into two parts; questions that remain the same between years and questions related to the CSES theme in each period. CSES combines data from participating countries and publishes it in open access at www.cses.org.

CCS is a cooperation platform for candidate surveys of election studies of approximately 30 countries. Iceland has been a member since 2009. Through this cooperation, a questionnaire from CCS is sent to all candidates that are on the candidate list of the political parties that are elected to parliament. The questionnaire from CCS is comparable between CCS member states. After data collection is completed, the data is sent to CCS and combined into one database centrally by the CCS. The data is archived and made available in a half-open access at the FORS (Swiss Centre of Expertise in the Social Sciences) in Switzerland; where access to the data can be applied for.

TEV was a cooperative platform for electoral studies among 25 European countries, funded by COST (European Cooperation in Science & Technology) from 2009 to 2013. The project aimed to harmonize and combine the data of participating national election studies into a single database. The database, which includes electoral studies from 1956 to 2013, is stored in half-open access at GESIS Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences, where access to the data can be applied for.

MEDem is a cooperation project of national election studies in Europe, which aims to establish a permanent infrastructure for cooperation on electoral research in Europe. The first meeting of MEDem was held in connection with the ECPR conference in Iceland in 2011. ICENES has been a participant in the MEDem network since then.

NED (Nordic Elections and Democracy - a research forum) is a forum for consultation between the national teams of electoral studies in the Nordic countries. Emphasis is placed on collaboration on innovations in methodologies and theories - and comparable questions. Members of the group wrote the first book that used data from election studies from all of the five countries, The Nordic Voter: Myths of Exceptionalism (2014). The authors were Åsa Bengtsson, Kasper M. Hansen, Ólafur Þ. Harðarson, Hanne Marthe Narud and Henrik Oskarsson.

ICENES is a part of CNES (Consortium for National Election Studies) which is a cooperative and consultative network of scientific national election studies that conduct voter surveys for national general elections.