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Political Efficacy and Participation in Twenty-Seven Democracies: How Electoral Systems Shape Political Behaviour




Advocates of proportional representation (PR) often cite its potential for increasing citizen involvement in politics as one of PR's fundamental advantages over plurality or first-past-the-post systems. The assumption is that plurality electoral systems distort the translation of votes into seats, discouraging and alienating small party supporters and other political minorities. In contrast, PR systems are believed to provide greater opportunities for representation which are assumed to instil greater efficacy and increase participation. We examine this theory linking institutions to electoral participation across a diverse set of countries using data from the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems. Using a multi-level approach we find evidence consistent with the expectations about the negative influence of disproportional systems on political minorities. Voters are also likely to have stronger partisan preferences in PR systems, which enhances political efficacy and increases voter participation. The effects of PR, however, are not all positive; broad coalitions, which are likely to be a feature of these systems, reduce political efficacy.

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  • Karp, Jeffrey A & Banducci, Susan A, 2008. "Political Efficacy and Participation in Twenty-Seven Democracies: How Electoral Systems Shape Political Behaviour," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 38(2), pages 311-334, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:bjposi:v:38:y:2008:i:02:p:311-334_00

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    Cited by:

    1. Xue Yang & Rui She & Mason MC Lau & Joseph TF Lau, 2020. "Anticipated socio-political developments and related personal responses as structural determinants of mental health problems: A population-based study," International Journal of Social Psychiatry, , vol. 66(1), pages 58-66, February.
    2. Hager, Anselm & Hensel, Lukas & Hermle, Johannes & Roth, Christopher, 2020. "Does Party Competition Affect Political Activism?," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 488, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    3. De Benedetto, Marco Alberto & De Paola, Maria, 2019. "Term limit extension and electoral participation. Evidence from a diff-in-discontinuities design at the local level in Italy," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 196-211.
    4. Carina Bischoff, 2013. "Electorally unstable by supply or demand?—an examination of the causes of electoral volatility in advanced industrial democracies," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 156(3), pages 537-561, September.
    5. Simon Lapointe & Tuukka Saarimaa & Janne Tukiainen, 2018. "Effects of municipal mergers on voter turnout," Local Government Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(4), pages 512-530, July.
    6. Zhijun Pei & Yingchun Pan & Martin Skitmore, 2018. "Political Efficacy, Social Network and Involvement in Public Deliberation in Rural China," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 139(2), pages 453-471, September.
    7. Ailsa Henderson & Nicola McEwen, 2015. "Regions as Primary Political Communities: A Multi-Level Comparative Analysis of Turnout in Regional Elections," Publius: The Journal of Federalism, Oxford University Press, vol. 45(2), pages 189-215.
    8. Borgonovi, Francesca & Pokropek, Artur, 2017. "Mind that gap: The mediating role of intelligence and individuals' socio-economic status in explaining disparities in external political efficacy in 28 countries," Intelligence, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 125-137.
    9. Lyytikäinen, Teemu & Tukiainen, Janne, 2019. "Are voters rational?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 230-242.
    10. John W. Budd & J. Ryan Lamare, 2021. "The Importance of Political Systems for Trade Union Membership, Coverage and Influence: Theory and Comparative Evidence," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 59(3), pages 757-787, September.
    11. John, Peter & Sjoberg, Fredrik M, 2020. "Partisan responses to democracy promotion – Estimating the causal effect of a civic information portal," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 130(C).
    12. Katjana Gattermann & Franziska Marquart, 2020. "Do Spitzenkandidaten really make a difference? An experiment on the effectiveness of personalized European Parliament election campaigns," European Union Politics, , vol. 21(4), pages 612-633, December.
    13. Amos Owen Thomas, 2016. "Voter empowerment for emerging democracies: Mobilising the marginalised in Peru," International Review on Public and Nonprofit Marketing, Springer;International Association of Public and Non-Profit Marketing, vol. 13(3), pages 239-263, October.
    14. Carolina Plescia & Jean-François Daoust & André Blais, 2021. "Do European elections enhance satisfaction with European Union democracy?," European Union Politics, , vol. 22(1), pages 94-113, March.

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