Advertisement

Acta Politica

, Volume 51, Issue 2, pp 173–193 | Cite as

Heterogeneity in turnout rates across regions and the nationalization of party systems

  • Pablo Simon
Original Article

Abstract

This article focuses on explaining the variation in turnout rates across districts within a country, a dimension of electoral participation with important political consequences. I argue that the nationalization of party systems is the main factor that drives heterogeneity in turnout rates. The causal mechanism operates through the impact of local party systems. When the nationalization of the party system is low, there are differences in the number and/or the type of local parties changing the voting incentives across districts. As a consequence, low nationalized party systems tend to enhance differences in turnout rates within the polity. Using data from Western Europe legislative elections and alternative nationalization indices, I provide evidence supporting this hypothesis. This article also considers the impact of modernization, ethnic fractionalization and different components of the electoral system.

Keywords

nationalization turnout inflation modernization party systems 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The author would like to acknowledge Ignacio Lago, André Blais, Marc Guinjoan, José Ramón Montero and Eva Anduiza for their thoughtful and useful comments and suggestions. He would also like to thank the two anonymous reviewers of this article for their insightful comments and acknowledges financial support from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation, research project CSO2010-1639.

References

  1. Alesina, A., Devleeschauwe, A., Easterly, W., Kurlat, S. and Wacziarg, R. (2003) Fractionalization. Journal of Economic Growth 8 (2): 155–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anduiza, E. (2002) Individual characteristics, institutional incentives and electoral abstention in Western Europe. European Journal of Political Research 41 (5): 643–673.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Benoit, K. (2002) The endogeneity problem in electoral studies: A critical re-examination of Duverger’s mechanical effect. Electoral Studies 21 (1): 35–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Berglund, S. and Thomsen, S. (1990) Modern Political Ecological Analysis. Åbo, Sweden: Åbo Akademis Förlag.Google Scholar
  5. Bernhagen, P. and Marsh, M. (2007) The partisan effects of lower turnout: Analyzing vote abstention as a missing data problem. Electoral Studies 26 (3): 548–560.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Blais, A. (2006) What affects voter turnout? Annual Review of Political Science 9 (June): 111–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Blais, A. and Aarts, K. (2006) Electoral system and turnout. Acta Politica 41 (2): 180–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Blais, A. and Carty, K.R. (1990) Does proportional representation foster voter turnout? European Journal of Political Research 18 (2): 167–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Blais, A. and Dobrzynska, A. (1998) Turnout in electoral democracies. European Journal of Political Research 33 (2): 239–261.Google Scholar
  10. Bochsler, D. (2010) Measuring party nationalisation: A new Gini-based indicator that corrects for the number of units. Electoral Studies 29 (1): 155–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Brady, H.E., Verba, S. and Scholzman, K.L. (1995) Beyond SES: A resource model of political participation. American Political Science Review 89 (2): 271–294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Clark, W.R. and Golder, M. (2006) Rehabilitating Duverger’s theory: Testing the mechanical and strategic modifying effects of electoral laws. Comparative Political Studies 39 (6): 679–708.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cox, G.W. (1997) Making Votes Count: Strategic Coordination in the World’s Electoral Systems. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cox, G.W. (1999) Electoral rules and electoral coordination. Annual Review of Political Science 2 (June): 145–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cox, G.W. and Knoll, J.S. (2003) Ethnes, fiscs and electoral rules: The determinants of party-system inflation. Paper presented in: Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association; 12–15 April, Chicago, IL.Google Scholar
  16. Caramani, D. (2000) Elections in Western Europe Since 1815: Electoral Results by Constituencies. Oxford: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  17. Caramani, D. (2004) The Nationalization of Politics: The Formation of National Electorates and Party Systems in Western Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Caramani, D. (2005) The formation of national party systems in Europe: A comparative-historical analysis. Scandinavian Political Studies 28 (4): 295–322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Chandra, K. (2006) What is ethnic identity and does it matter? Annual. Review Political Science 9 (June): 397–424.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Chhibber, P. and Kollman, K. (1998) Party aggregation and the number of parties in India and the United States. American Political Science Review 92 (2): 329–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Chhibber, P. and Kollman, K. (2004) The Formation of National Party Systems: Federalism and Party Competition in Canada, Great Britain, India and the United States. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Downs, A. (1957) An economic theory of democracy. The Journal of Political Economy 65 (2): 135–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Fitjar, R.D. (2010) Explaining variation in sub-state regional identities in Western Europe. European Journal of Political Research 49 (4): 522–544.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Franklin, M. (1996) Electoral participation. In: L. LeDuc, R. Niemi and P. Norris (eds.) Comparing Democracies: Elections and Voting in Global Perspective. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage, pp. 216–235.Google Scholar
  25. Gallego, A. (2010) Understanding unequal turnout: Education and voting in comparative perspective. Electoral Studies 29 (2): 239–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Geys, B. (2006) Explaining voter turnout: A review of aggregate-level research. Electoral Studies 25 (4): 637–663.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Golder, M. Distributor (2007) Replication data for: Democratic electoral systems around the world, 1946–2000, http://hdl.handle.net/1902.1/10479 UNF:3:Tck3h2JpUzohauPCbNIm5w==MattGolder [Distributor] V1 [Version].Google Scholar
  28. Grofman, B. and Selb, P. (2011) Turnout and the (effective) number of parties at the national and district levels: A puzzle-solving approach. Party Politics 17 (1): 93–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Grofman, B., Koetzle, W. and Burnell, T. (1997) An integrated perspective on the three potential sources of partisan bias: Malapportionment, turnout differences and the geographic distribution of party vote shares. Electoral Studies 16 (4): 457–470.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hansford, T.G. and Gomez, B.T. (2010) Estimating the electoral effects of voter turnout. American Political Science Review 104 (2): 268–288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Horowitz, D.L. (1985) Ethnic Groups in Conflict. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  32. Horowitz, D.L. (1993) Democracy in divided societies. Journal of Democracy 4 (4): 18–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Jackman, R.W. (1987) Political institutions and voter turnout in the industrial democracies. American Political Science Review 81 (2): 405–424.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Jurado, I. (2014) Party system nationalisation and social spending. European Journal of Political Research 53 (2): 288–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kostadinova, T. (2003) Voter turnout dynamics in post-communist Europe. European Journal of Political Research 42 (6): 741–759.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Laakso, M. and Taagepera, R. (1979) Effective number of parties: A measure with application to West Europe. Comparative Political Studies 12 (1): 3–27.Google Scholar
  37. Lago, I. and Montero, J.R. (2009) Coordination between electoral arenas in multilevel countries. European Journal of Political Research 48 (2): 176–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lago, I. and Montero, J.R. (2014) Defining and measuring party system nationalization. European Political Science Review 6 (2): 191–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lijphart, A. (1997) Unequal participation: Democracy’s unresolved dilemma. American Political Science Review 91 (1): 1–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lijphart, A. (2012) Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-Six Countries. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Lutz, Gorg and Marsh, M. (2007) Introduction: Consequences of low turnout. Electoral Studies 26 (3): 539–547.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Moenius, J. and Kasuya, Y. (2004) Measuring party linkage across districts: Some party system inflation indices end the properties. Party Politics 10 (5): 543–564.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Monroe, B.L. and Rose, A.G. (2002) Electoral systems and unimagined consequences: Partisan effects of districted proportional representation. American Journal of Political Science 46 (1): 67–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Morgenstern, S., Swindle, S.M. and Castagnola, A. (2009) Party nationalization and institutions. The Journal of Politics 71 (4): 1322–1341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Mozaffar, S. (2006) Party, ethnicity and democratization in Africa. In: R. Katz and W. Crotty (eds.) Handbook of Party Politics. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage, pp. 239–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Pacek, A. and Radcliff, B. (1995) Turnout and the vote for left-of-centre parties: A cross-national analysis. British Journal of Political Science 25 (1): 137–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Podestà, F. (2002) Recent developments in quantitative comparative methodology: The case of pooled time series cross-section analysis. DSS Papers Soc 3-02.Google Scholar
  48. Powell, G.B. (1986) American voter turnout in comparative perspective. American Political Science Review 80 (1): 17–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Riker, W.H. and Ordeshook, P.C. (1968) A theory of the calculus of voting. American Political Science Review 62 (1): 25–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Samuels, D. and Bochsler, D. (2001) The value of a vote: The malapportionment in comparative perspective. British Journal of Political Science 31 (4): 651–671.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Sikk, A. and Bochsler, D. (2008) Impact of ethnic heterogeneity on party nationalization in the baltic states. Paper presented in ECPR at the Panel ‘The Nationalisation of Party Systems in Central and Eastern Europe’. Rennes, France (11-16 April).Google Scholar
  52. Simon, P. (2013) The combined impact of decentralisation and personalism on the nationalisation of party systems. Political Studies 61 (S1): 24–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Simon-Cosano, P., Lago-Peñas, S. and Vaquero, A. (2014) On the political determinants of intergovernmental grants in decentralized countries: The case of Spain. Publius 44 (1): 135–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Singer, M. and Stephenson, L.B. (2009) The political context and duverger’s theory: Evidence at the district level. Electoral Studies 28 (3): 480–491.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pablo Simon
    • 1
  1. 1.Carlos III de MadridMadridSpain

Personalised recommendations