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

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  • Matthias Fatke

    ()

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthias Fatke, 2013. "Participation and Political Equality in Direct Democracy: Educative Effect or Social Bias," University of Bern Social Sciences Working Papers 3, University of Bern, Department of Social Sciences.
  • Handle: RePEc:bss:wpaper:3
    as

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    File URL: http://repec.sowi.unibe.ch/files/wp3/fatke-2013-dd_and_social_equality.pdf
    File Function: First version, 2013
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    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. Brambor, Thomas & Clark, William Roberts & Golder, Matt, 2006. "Understanding Interaction Models: Improving Empirical Analyses," Political Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 14(01), pages 63-82, December.
    4. 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.
    5. 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, September.
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    7. 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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    10. Mendelsohn, Matthew & Cutler, Fred, 2000. "The Effect of Referendums on Democratic Citizens: Information, Politicization, Efficacy and Tolerance," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 30(04), pages 669-698, October.
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    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Direct democracy; Political participation; Educative effect; SES model; First differences;

    JEL classification:

    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality

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