Human Rights Review

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 263–282 | Cite as

Voting and Human Rights in Democratic Societies

  • Nisha Mukherjee BellingerEmail author


The majority of research on human rights focuses on the consequences of regime-type for human rights violations, and overwhelming evidence suggests that democracies are less likely to violate human rights of their citizens as compared to non-democracies. However, a regime-type perspective is unable to account for disparities in human rights violations within democratic and non-democratic regimes. This paper disaggregates regime-type and analyzes the relationship between citizens’ participation and human rights violations. I argue that a participative citizenry, as captured by high voter turnout, is indicative of an active and vigilant populace who are more likely to hold governments accountable and ensure better human rights protections. The paper tests the relationship between human rights and voter turnout among 89 democratic countries from 1976 to 2008. The findings demonstrate that a participative citizenry enhances governmental respect for human rights.


Human rights Voter turnout Democratic regimes Citizen’s participation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social Sciences & Cultural StudiesMontana State University BillingsBillingsUSA

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