Tuesday Seminar – 8 September

Democracy, Votes, and Participation: The Effect of Election Frequency on Voter Turnout

Filip Kostelka (University of Essex)
Eva Krejcova (University of Cambridge)
Nicolas Sauger (Sciences Po, Paris)
Alexander Wuttke (University of Mannheim)  

In recent decades, liberal democracies have considerably expanded the scope for citizen participation. Citizens are called to take part in a growing number of popular votes. This research investigates the effects of the rising election frequency on electoral participation. Building on the existing literature, we theorize which, when, and how past votes affect current voter turnout. We test the new hypotheses using an original database of all significant elections and referendums held in twenty-two European democracies between 1939 and 2019, two natural experiments, and survey data from the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems. Our results reveal that all election types contribute to a common factor of election frequency, whose high values depress voter turnout in legislative elections and reduce the effectiveness of party mobilization. These findings shed light on the contemporary participation trends and have major implications for democratic citizenship and democratic institutional engineering.

Contact Semih Çakır if you would like to participate in the seminar.

This content has been updated on 2 September 2020 at 13 h 14 min.