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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

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  • Bruno Heyndels

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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

Suggested Citation

  • John Ashworth & Benny Geys & Bruno Heyndels, 2006. "Everyone likes a winner: An empirical test of the effect of electoral closeness on turnout in a context of expressive voting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 128(3), pages 383-405, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:128:y:2006:i:3:p:383-405
    DOI: 10.1007/s11127-005-9006-8
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Richard Cebula & Franklin Mixon, 2012. "Dodging the vote?," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 42(1), pages 325-343, February.
    2. Barton, Jared & Rodet, Cortney, 2015. "Are political statements only expressive? An experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 174-186.
    3. J. Edward Russo & Jonathan C. Corbin, 2016. "Not by desire alone: The role of cognitive consistency in the desirability bias," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 11(5), pages 449-459, September.
    4. Elena Panova, 2011. "A Passion for Democracy," CIRANO Working Papers 2011s-47, CIRANO.
    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. 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.
    7. Peter Bönisch & Benny Geys & Claus Michelsen, 2015. "David and Goliath in the Poll Booth: Group Size, Voting Power and Voter Turnout," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1491, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    8. Avi Ben-Bassat & Momi Dahan, 2012. "Social identity and voting behavior," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 151(1), pages 193-214, April.
    9. 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.
    10. Hillman, Arye L., 2010. "Expressive behavior in economics and politics," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 403-418, December.
    11. Hamlin, Alan & Jennings, Colin, 2011. "Expressive Political Behaviour: Foundations, Scope and Implications," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 41(03), pages 645-670, July.
    12. Sanne Zwart, 2007. "Fixing the Quorum: Representation versus Abstention," Economics Working Papers ECO2007/07, European University Institute.
    13. Amihai Glazer, 2008. "Voting to anger and to please others," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 134(3), pages 247-254, March.
    14. Arenas, Andreu, 2016. "Sticky votes," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 132(PA), pages 12-25.
    15. Áron Kiss & Gábor Simonovits, 2014. "Identifying the bandwagon effect in two-round elections," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 160(3), pages 327-344, September.

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