Left-Authoritarians and Voter Turnout in West European Countries

37 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2017

See all articles by Sven Hillen

Sven Hillen

Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz

Nils D. Steiner

Johannes Gutenberg-University of Mainz; Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz - Department of Political Science

Date Written: April 6, 2017

Abstract

Parties with a left profile on economic issues and an authoritarian profile on socio-cultural issues have been largely absent from the supply side of the typical post-World-War-II policy space of West European democracies. As a result, citizens with economically left and socio-culturally authoritarian policy positions have faced difficulties in identifying parties that match their preference bundle. Building on previous inquiries into the party preferences of left-authoritarians, this study hypothesizes that the cross-pressures left-authoritarians typically encounter when looking for a party that matches their preferences translate into an overall lower likelihood to turn out to vote in national elections. Using data for 14 West European countries from the European Social Survey 2008, we show that left-authoritarians are, on average, indeed less likely to vote. In a second step, we consider whether the left-authoritarian turnout gap is conditioned by changes in party supply. Mainly because of the emergence of right-wing populist parties with pro-welfare platforms in the last decade(s) the previously largely empty left-authoritarian quadrant has been occupied in some countries. We turn to national election studies from Finland, which witnessed the emergence of a successful party with a pronounced left-authoritarian profile (the Finns Party), to study how the left-authoritarian turnout gap responds to changes in party supply. Our study illuminates the relation between party system characteristics and voter turnout and has broader implications for research on competition between left and right-wing populist parties for working-class voters.

Keywords: Left-authoritarians, voter turnout, policy space, right-wing populist parties, representation gap

Suggested Citation

Hillen, Sven and Steiner, Nils D. and Steiner, Nils D., Left-Authoritarians and Voter Turnout in West European Countries (April 6, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2947782 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2947782

Sven Hillen

Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz ( email )

Saarstrasse 21
Mainz, D-55099
Germany

Nils D. Steiner (Contact Author)

Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz - Department of Political Science ( email )

Saarstrasse 21
Mainz, D-55099
Germany

Johannes Gutenberg-University of Mainz ( email )

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