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Referendum Design, Quorum Rules and Turnout

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Abstract

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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  • Luís Aguiar-Conraria & Pedro C. Magalhães, 2008. "Referendum Design, Quorum Rules and Turnout," NIPE Working Papers 05/2008, NIPE - Universidade do Minho.
  • Handle: RePEc:nip:nipewp:05/2008
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    1. repec:cup:apsrev:v:93:y:1999:i:02:p:381-398_21 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Sarah Voitchovsky, 2005. "Does the Profile of Income Inequality Matter for Economic Growth?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 10(3), pages 273-296, September.
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    4. Helios Herrera & Andrea Mattozzi, 2010. "Quorum and Turnout in Referenda," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(4), pages 838-871, June.
    5. Bendor, Jonathan & Diermeier, Daniel & Ting, Michael M., 2000. "A Behavioral Model of Turnout," Research Papers 1627, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
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    10. 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.
    11. Lewis-Beck, Michael S. & Tien, Charles, 1999. "Voters as forecasters: a micromodel of election prediction," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 175-184, April.
    12. Matthew Gentzkow, 2006. "Television and Voter Turnout," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(3), pages 931-972.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Linda Gonçalves Veiga, 2013. "Voting functions in the EU-15," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 157(3), pages 411-428, December.
    2. Luís Francisco Aguiar & Pedro C. Magalhães, 2009. "How quorum rules distort referendum outcomes: evidence from a pivotal voter model," NIPE Working Papers 17/2009, NIPE - Universidade do Minho.
    3. Yoichi Hizen, 2015. "A referendum experiment with participation quorums," Working Papers SDES-2015-6, Kochi University of Technology, School of Economics and Management, revised Jan 2015.
    4. Paulo Bastos & Natália P. Monteiro, 2011. "Managers and Wage Policies," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(4), pages 957-984, December.
    5. Yoichi Hizen & Masafumi Shinmyo, 2011. "Imposing a turnout threshold in referendums," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 148(3), pages 491-503, September.
    6. Sabine Flamand & Orestis Troumpounis, 2014. "Participation quorums in costly meetings," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 159(1), pages 53-62, April.
    7. Thomas Jensen & Asger Lau Andersen, 2010. "Exit Polls and Voter Turnout," EPRU Working Paper Series 2010-10, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    8. Luís Aguiar-Conraria & Pedro C. Magalhães & Christoph A. Vanberg, 2016. "Experimental evidence that quorum rules discourage turnout and promote election boycotts," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 19(4), pages 886-909, December.
    9. François Maniquet & Massimo Morelli, 2015. "Approval quorums dominate participation quorums," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 45(1), pages 1-27, June.
    10. Patricia Charléty & Marie-Cécile Fagart & Saïd Souam, 2017. "Quorum Rules and Shareholder Power," EconomiX Working Papers 2017-35, University of Paris Nanterre, EconomiX.
    11. Maaser, Nicola, 2013. "On the design of citizens’ initiatives in a union of states," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 120(1), pages 36-39.
    12. 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.
    13. Garmann, Sebastian, 2016. "Concurrent elections and turnout: Causal estimates from a German quasi-experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 126(PA), pages 167-178.
    14. Fernando Alexandre & Miguel Portela & Carla Sá, 2008. "Admission conditions and graduates' employability," NIPE Working Papers 16/2008, NIPE - Universidade do Minho.
    15. Aguiar-Conraria, Luís & Magalhães, Pedro C., 2010. "How quorum rules distort referendum outcomes: Evidence from a pivotal voter model," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 541-557, December.
    16. repec:spr:soinre:v:133:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11205-016-1408-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Marc Pauly, 2013. "Characterizing referenda with quorums via strategy-proofness," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 75(4), pages 581-597, October.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Referendum Design; Voter turnout;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • C25 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Discrete Regression and Qualitative Choice Models; Discrete Regressors; Proportions; Probabilities
    • C20 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - General

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