Public Choice

, Volume 155, Issue 3, pp 251-271

First online:

It’s the weather, stupid! Individual participation in collective May Day demonstrations

  • Peter Kurrild-KlitgaardAffiliated withDepartment of Political Science, University of Copenhagen Email author 

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We investigate the possible explanations for variations in aggregate levels of participation in large-scale political demonstrations. A simple public choice inspired model is applied to data derived from the annual May Day demonstrations of the Danish labor movement and socialist parties taking place in Copenhagen in the period 1980–2011. The most important explanatory variables are variations in the weather conditions and consumer confidence, while political and socio-economic conditions exhibit no robust effects. As such accidental or non-political factors may be much more important for collective political action than usually acknowledged and possibly make changes in aggregate levels of political support seem erratic and unpredictable.


Collective action Demonstrations Free-riding