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Experimental evidence that quorum rules discourage turnout and promote election boycotts

Author

Listed:
  • Luís Aguiar-Conraria

    () (University of Minho)

  • Pedro C. Magalhães

    (University of Lisbon)

  • Christoph A. Vanberg

    (University of Heidelberg)

Abstract

Abstract Many democratic decision making institutions involve quorum rules. Such rules are commonly motivated by concerns about the “legitimacy” or “representativeness” of decisions reached when only a subset of eligible voters participates. A prominent example of this can be found in the context of direct democracy mechanisms, such as referenda and initiatives. We conduct a laboratory experiment to investigate the consequences of the two most common types of quorum rules: a participation quorum and an approval quorum. We find that both types of quora lead to lower participation rates, dramatically increasing the likelihood of full-fledged electoral boycotts on the part of those who endorse the Status Quo. This discouraging effect is significantly larger under a participation quorum than under an approval quorum.

Suggested Citation

  • Luís Aguiar-Conraria & Pedro C. Magalhães & Christoph A. Vanberg, 2016. "Experimental evidence that quorum rules discourage turnout and promote election boycotts," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 19(4), pages 886-909, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:expeco:v:19:y:2016:i:4:d:10.1007_s10683-015-9473-9
    DOI: 10.1007/s10683-015-9473-9
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Election design; Participation quorum; Approval quorum; Laboratory experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact

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