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Everyone likes a winner: An empirical test of the effect of electoral closeness on turnout in a context of expressive voting

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  • John Ashworth
  • Benny Geys

    ()

  • Bruno Heyndels

    ()

Abstract

Under instrumental voting closer elections are expected to have higher turnout. Under expressive voting, however, turnout may increase with decreasing closeness when voters have a preference for winners. An empirical test using data on Belgian municipal elections supports this. We find that turnout reaches a local maximum when the largest party in the election obtains just over 52% of the seats and then falls (supporting the “instrumental” closeness-argument). There is, however, another turning point: the presence of a highly dominating party (receiving at least two-thirds of the votes) stimulates turnout despite the fact that dominance implies lower closeness. Copyright Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2006

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal Public Choice.

Volume (Year): 128 (2006)
Issue (Month): 3 (September)
Pages: 383-405

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Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:128:y:2006:i:3:p:383-405

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Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=100332

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  1. Kirchgassner, Gebhard & Schimmelpfenning, Jorg, 1992. " Closeness Counts If It Matters for Electoral Victory: Some Empirical Results for the United Kingdom and the Federal Republic of Germany," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 73(3), pages 283-99, April.
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  3. Ashworth, John & Heyndels, Bruno & Smolders, Carine, 2002. "Redistribution as a Local Public Good: An Empirical Test for Flemish Municipalities," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(1), pages 27-56.
  4. Eichenberger, Reiner & Oberholzer-Gee, Felix, 1998. " Rational Moralists: The Role of Fairness in Democratic Economic Politics," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 94(1-2), pages 191-210, January.
  5. Matsusaka, John G & Palda, Filip, 1993. " The Downsian Voter Meets the Ecological Fallacy," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 77(4), pages 855-78, December.
  6. Mueller,Dennis C., 2003. "Public Choice III," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521894753, October.
  7. Carter, John R & Guerette, Stephen D, 1992. " An Experimental Study of Expressive Voting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 73(3), pages 251-60, April.
  8. Brennan, Geoffrey & Hamlin, Alan, 1998. " Expressive Voting and Electoral Equilibrium," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 95(1-2), pages 149-75, April.
  9. Barry Nalebuff & Ron Shachar, 1999. "Follow the Leader: Theory and Evidence on Political Participation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 525-547, June.
  10. Arthur Lewbel, 1997. "Constructing Instruments for Regressions with Measurement Error when no Additional Data are Available, with an Application to Patents and R&D," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(5), pages 1201-1214, September.
  11. Russell S. Sobel & Gary A. Wagner, 2004. "Expressive Voting and Government Redistribution: Testing Tullock's `Charity of the Uncharitable'," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 119(1_2), pages 143-159, 04.
  12. Copeland, Cassandra & Laband, David N, 2002. " Expressiveness and Voting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 110(3-4), pages 351-63, March.
  13. Huber, Gerald & Kocher, Martin & Sutter, Matthias, 2003. " Government Strength, Power Dispersion in Governments and Budget Deficits in OECD-Countries: A Voting Power Approach," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 116(3-4), pages 333-50, September.
  14. Benny Geys & Bruno Heyndels, 2006. "Disentangling The Effects Of Political Fragmentation On Voter Turnout: The Flemish Municipal Elections," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(3), pages 367-387, November.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Sanne Zwart, 2007. "Fixing the Quorum: Representation versus Abstention," Economics Working Papers ECO2007/07, European University Institute.
  2. Alan Hamlin & Colin Jennings, 2009. "Expressive Political Behaviour: Foundations, Scope and Implications," Working Papers 0918, University of Strathclyde Business School, Department of Economics.
  3. Dennis, Christopher & Medoff, Marshall H. & Magnera, Michael, 2008. "Constituents' economic interests and senator support for spending limitations," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 37(6), pages 2443-2453, December.
  4. Avi Ben-Bassat & Momi Dahan, 2012. "Social identity and voting behavior," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 151(1), pages 193-214, April.
  5. Peter Calcagno & Christopher Westley, 2008. "An institutional analysis of voter turnout: the role of primary type and the expressive and instrumental voting hypotheses," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 19(2), pages 94-110, June.
  6. Claus Michelsen & Peter Boenisch & Benny Geys, 2014. "(De)Centralization and voter turnout: theory and evidence from German municipalities," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 159(3), pages 469-483, June.
  7. Elena Panova, 2011. "A Passion for Democracy," CIRANO Working Papers 2011s-47, CIRANO.
  8. Richard Cebula & Franklin Mixon, 2012. "Dodging the vote?," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 42(1), pages 325-343, February.
  9. Hillman, Arye L., 2010. "Expressive behavior in economics and politics," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 403-418, December.
  10. Amihai Glazer, 2008. "Voting to anger and to please others," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 134(3), pages 247-254, March.

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