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The voter who wasn't there: Referenda, Representation and Abstention

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  • Paulo P. Corte-Real
  • Paulo Trigo Pereira

Abstract

We analyze single binary-choice voting rules and identify the presence of the No-show paradox in this simple setting, as a consequence of specific turnout or quorum conditions that are included in actual rules. Since these conditions are meant to ensure a representative outcome, we try to formalize this concern and reach our main result: no voting rule can ensure representation if abstention is possible, unless specific restrictive assumptions are made on the preference domain of abstainers. We then focus on the main referendum systems and show that appropriate restrictions do make them compatible with representation. The main purpose of our paper is, however, to provide a tool for referendum design. Unawareness of the fact that defining a representative voting system necessarily entails restrictions on the preference domain of non-voters may lead to the imposition of restrictions that do not satisfy any deliberate criteria and generate such problems as the No-show paradox. We therefore recommend instead that a conscious choice be made on how abstention is to be interpreted and that this choice be used as a tool to derive the corresponding referendum rule.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by ISEG - School of Economics and Management, Department of Economics, University of Lisbon in its series Working Papers Department of Economics with number 2002/04.

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Date of creation: 2002
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Handle: RePEc:ise:isegwp:wp42002

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Postal: Department of Economics, ISEG - School of Economics and Management, University of Lisbon, Rua do Quelhas 6, 1200-781 LISBON, PORTUGAL
Web page: https://aquila1.iseg.ulisboa.pt/aquila/departamentos/EC

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Cited by:
  1. Artabe, Alaitz & Laruelle, Annick & Valenciano Llovera, Federico, 2011. "Preferences, actions and voting rules," IKERLANAK 2011-48, Universidad del País Vasco - Departamento de Fundamentos del Análisis Económico I.
  2. Helios Herrera & Andrea Mattozzi, 2006. "Turnout and Quorum in Referenda," Levine's Bibliography 321307000000000230, UCLA Department of Economics.
  3. MANIQUET, François & MORELLI, Massimo & ,, 2013. "Approval quorums dominate participation quorums," CORE Discussion Papers 2013054, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  4. Nicolas Houy, 2009. "A characterization of majority voting rules with quorums," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 67(3), pages 295-301, September.
  5. Yoichi Hizen & Masafumi Shinmyo, 2011. "Imposing a turnout threshold in referendums," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 148(3), pages 491-503, September.
  6. Valenciano Llovera, Federico & Laruelle, Annick, 2010. "Majorities with a quorum," IKERLANAK 2010-42, Universidad del País Vasco - Departamento de Fundamentos del Análisis Económico I.
  7. Valenciano Llovera, Federico & Laruelle, Annick, 2010. "Quaternary dichotomous voting rules," IKERLANAK 2010-41, Universidad del País Vasco - Departamento de Fundamentos del Análisis Económico I.
  8. Marc Pauly, 2013. "Characterizing referenda with quorums via strategy-proofness," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 75(4), pages 581-597, October.
  9. Luís Francisco Aguiar-Conraria & Pedro C. Magalhães & Christoph A. Vanberg, 2013. "Experimental evidence that quorum rules discourage turnout and promote election boycotts," NIPE Working Papers 14/2013, NIPE - Universidade do Minho.
  10. Ines Lindner, 2008. "A Special Case of Penrose’s Limit Theorem When Abstention is Allowed," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 64(4), pages 495-518, June.

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