Participation and Political Equality in Direct Democracy: Educative Effect or Social Bias
This paper analyzes the moderating effect of direct democracy on the relationship of socioeconomic status and political participation. A skeptical position holds that direct democracy increases social bias in the electorate as issues are too complex and demanding. Participatory democrats in contrast invoke an educative effect of direct democratic institutions, thus decreasing social bias of the electorate. To test both arguments we use data from the Swiss equivalent of the American states and estimate cross-level interactions of socioeconomic direct democracy variables on political participation. First differences between effects in the least and most direct democratic cantons are not statistically significant. This result may be seen as relief for skeptics as well as disappointment for proponents of direct democracy.
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