The political dynamics of voter retrospection and disaster responses

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Natural hazards not only have socioeconomic ramifications, they also have political repercussions. This paper takes stock of the fast‐growing area of research linking disasters triggered by natural hazards to voting behaviour. It is based on the central tenet of voter retrospection: voters place emphasis on past events when making their selection. The study uncovers a great disparity in analysis of electoral outcomes in the wake of disasters, part of which can be explained by the different methodological choices of authors. However, the unpredictability of voting behaviour in the aftermath of disasters also points to the relevance of introducing an intermediate variable when elucidating voter movements. This variable should capture the prevailing political discourses that surround disasters, as these are likely to shape the dynamics of voter retrospection. The paper demonstrates the analytical relevance of such political discourses by contrasting political dynamics in Denmark and Sweden following the Indian Ocean tsunami on 26 December 2004.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)239-261
Number of pages29
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

Important note from the Publisher regarding the attached version of the article (available june 2021) "This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Rubin, O. (2020), The political dynamics of voter retrospection and disaster responses. Disasters. doi:10.1111/disa.12376, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions."


  • disaster discourses
  • elections
  • government responses
  • political narratives
  • tsunami
  • voter retrospection

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