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Referendum Design, Quorum Rules and Turnout

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  • Luís Aguiar-Conraria

    ()
    (Universidade do Minho - NIPE)

  • Pedro C. Magalhães

    ()
    (University of Lisbon, Social Sciences Institute,)

Abstract

In this article, we focus on the consequences of quorum requirements for turnout in referendums. We use a rational choice, decision theoretic voting model to demonstrate that participation quorums change the incentives some electors face, inducing those who oppose changes in the status quo and expect to be in the minority to abstain. As a result, paradoxically, participation quorums decrease electoral participation. We test our model’s predictions using data for all referendums held in current European Union countries from 1970 until 2007, and show that the existence of a participation quorums increases abstention by more than ten percentage points.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by NIPE - Universidade do Minho in its series NIPE Working Papers with number 05/2008.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:nip:nipewp:05/2008

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Keywords: Referendum Design; Voter turnout;

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References

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  1. Helios Herrera & Andrea Mattozzi, 2010. "Quorum and Turnout in Referenda," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 838-871, 06.
  2. Sarah Voitchovsky, 2005. "Does the Profile of Income Inequality Matter for Economic Growth?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 10(3), pages 273-296, 09.
  3. Matthew Gentzkow, 2006. "Television and Voter Turnout," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(3), pages 931-972, 08.
  4. Lewis-Beck, Michael S. & Tien, Charles, 1999. "Voters as forecasters: a micromodel of election prediction," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 175-184, April.
  5. Timothy J. Feddersen, 2004. "Rational Choice Theory and the Paradox of Not Voting," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(1), pages 99-112, Winter.
  6. Coate, Stephen & Conlin, Michael & Moro, Andrea, 2008. "The performance of pivotal-voter models in small-scale elections: Evidence from Texas liquor referenda," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(3-4), pages 582-596, April.
  7. Timothy J. Fedderson & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1996. "Abstention in Elections with Asymmetric Information and Diverse Preferences," Discussion Papers 1195, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  8. Noam, Eli M, 1980. "The Efficiency of Direct Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(4), pages 803-10, August.
  9. Chamberlain, Gary & Rothschild, Michael, 1981. "A note on the probability of casting a decisive vote," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 152-162, August.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Linda Gonçalves Veiga, 2013. "Voting functions in the EU-15," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 157(3), pages 411-428, December.
  2. Francois Maniquet & Massimo Morelli, 2010. "Approval Quorums Dominate Participation Quorums," Economics Working Papers ECO2010/13, European University Institute.
  3. Sabine Flamand & Orestis Troumpounis, 2014. "Participation quorums in costly meetings," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 159(1), pages 53-62, April.
  4. Natália P. Monteiro & Paulo Bastos, 2009. "Managers and wage policies," NIPE Working Papers 2/2009, NIPE - Universidade do Minho.
  5. Fernando Alexandre & Miguel Portela & Carla Sá, 2008. "Admission conditions and graduates' employability," NIPE Working Papers 16/2008, NIPE - Universidade do Minho.
  6. Yoichi Hizen & Masafumi Shinmyo, 2011. "Imposing a turnout threshold in referendums," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 148(3), pages 491-503, September.
  7. 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.
  8. Maaser, Nicola, 2013. "On the design of citizens’ initiatives in a union of states," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 120(1), pages 36-39.
  9. Marc Pauly, 2013. "Characterizing referenda with quorums via strategy-proofness," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 75(4), pages 581-597, October.
  10. Luís Francisco Aguiar & Pedro C. Magalhães, 2009. "How quorum rules distort referendum outcomes: evidence from a pivotal voter model," NIPE Working Papers 17/2009, NIPE - Universidade do Minho.
  11. Aguiar-Conraria, Luís & Magalhães, Pedro C., 2010. "How quorum rules distort referendum outcomes: Evidence from a pivotal voter model," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 541-557, December.
  12. 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.
  13. Thomas Jensen & Asger Lau Andersen, 2010. "Exit Polls and Voter Turnout," EPRU Working Paper Series 2010-10, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.

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