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


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.


nationalization turnout inflation modernization party systems 



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.


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2015

Authors and Affiliations

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

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