Motives behind voting and the perception of the motives: paradox of voting in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Original Paper


The prosperity of developing countries highly depends on the voting outcomes, as they represent the key to economic and social progress. However, there is limited evidence on what motivates people to vote. Moreover, their reasons for voting go beyond material self-interest, which is the conventional assumption. As the expected benefit from voting is rather small compared to the time cost and effort, there has been a need for better understanding of the phenomenon. Thus, the theory of expressive voting provides an alternative to the rational voter hypothesis. Due to its complex political system, Bosnia and Herzegovina is an interesting example of a developing country, which is why it was chosen for this study. The latest local elections were organized in 2016 and the present paper examines the perception of voters and tries to answer the question of why people voted the way they did, and why they think others voted as they did. A convenient sample of 406 citizens from Bosnia and Herzegovina completed the survey. Although there is little chance that one vote would influence the election, the strongest reason for voting was to affect the results. The reasons “it is a democratic obligation to vote” and “to express the political view by voting” were also mostly considered as important or very important. People perceived not voting as unethical. This perception was stronger among left-wing voters. The results also showed that people generally believe that they vote less selfishly than others. The majority of the respondents considered selfish voting as unethical or very unethical. The study also describes the influence of socio-demographic variables on the reasons and motives for voting and on the perception of selfish voting and not voting. The method was replicated from a study conducted in Sweden by Carlsson and Johansson-Stenman (Kyklos 63:495–516, 2010). The results of both studies are compared.


Expressive voting Elections Economic development 

JEL Classification

D72 F63 O12 



This paper was elaborated within the framework of Masaryk University Specific Research Project MUNI/A/1021/2015.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Eurasia Business and Economics Society 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Corporate EconomicsMasaryk University BrnoBrnoCzech Republic

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