Comparing Voter Participation: Individual Resources, Orientations and the Context of Party Politics
33 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 23 Sep 2009
Date Written: 2009
Electoral institutions shape the potential costs and benefits of participation. We argue that, by shaping the range and diversity of choices available to voters, electoral institutions can pull citizens into the democratic process by making voting meaningful. Our analyses of data from 29 contemporary democracies around the world collected by the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems project suggest that a differentiated and more numerous electoral supply powerfully influence voter engagement, and that these effects are both indirect and contingent. First, the electoral supply has an indirect effect on turnout by shaping civic attitudes conducive to turnout. More numerous and differentiated choices among parties boost feelings of representation and responsiveness, such as feeling represented by parties and that one's vote matters. Second, a differentiated electoral supply has a contingent effect on turnout by conditioning the effects of political attitudes on voter participation. Citizens who feel represented by a party are more likely to vote if they live in countries where parties present more differentiated policy profiles.
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