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Participation and Political Equality in Direct Democracy: Educative Effect or Social Bias

  • Matthias Fatke

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    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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    File URL: ftp://repec.sowi.unibe.ch/files/wp3/fatke-2013-dd_and_social_equality.pdf
    File Function: First version, 2013
    Download Restriction: no

    Paper provided by University of Bern, Department of Social Sciences in its series University of Bern Social Sciences Working Papers with number 3.

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    Length: 41 pages
    Date of creation: 10 Sep 2013
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:bss:wpaper:3
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.sowi.unibe.ch/

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    1. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, . "Happiness, Economy and Institutions," IEW - Working Papers 015, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    2. Joshua J. Dyck & Nicholas R. Seabrook, 2010. "Mobilized by Direct Democracy: Short-Term Versus Long-Term Effects and the Geography of Turnout in Ballot Measure Elections," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 91(1), pages 188-208.
    3. Arthur A. Goldsmith, 2005. "Plebiscites, Fiscal Policy and the Poor: Learning from US Experience with Direct Democracy," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 23(5), pages 553-566, 09.
    4. Hall, Peter A. & Taylor, Rosemary C. R., 1996. "Political science and the three new institutionalisms," MPIfG Discussion Paper 96/6, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
    5. David Dreyer Lassen, 2004. "The Effect of Information on Voter Turnout: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," EPRU Working Paper Series 04-03, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    6. Peter Selb, 2008. "Supersized votes: ballot length, uncertainty, and choice in direct legislation elections," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 135(3), pages 319-336, June.
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