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Referendum design, quorum rules and turnout

  • Luís Aguiar-Conraria

    ()

  • Pedro Magalhães

    ()

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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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s11127-009-9504-1
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Article provided by Springer in its journal Public Choice.

Volume (Year): 144 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 (July)
Pages: 63-81

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Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:144:y:2010:i:1:p:63-81
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=100332

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  1. 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.
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  7. 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.
  8. 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.
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  10. Noam, Eli M, 1980. "The Efficiency of Direct Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(4), pages 803-10, August.
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