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Experimental evidence that quorum rules discourage turnout and promote election boycotts


  • Luís Francisco Aguiar-Conraria

    () (Universidade do Minho - NIPE)

  • Pedro C. Magalhães

    () (University of Lisbon, Social Sciences Institute)

  • Christoph A. Vanberg

    () (Alfred-Weber-Institut, University of Heidelberg)


In most instances of collective decision-making, it cannot be expected that all persons who are entitled to vote will end up doing so. This has led institutional designers, out of concerns with the “legitimacy” of decisions, to introduce quorum requirements. A prominent example of this can be found in the context of direct democracy mechanisms, such as referenda and initiatives. We discuss the results of an experiment about the consequences of such quora. We show that quora lead to overall decreases in participation rates, dramatically increasing the likelihood of full-fledged electoral boycotts on the part of status quo supporters.

Suggested Citation

  • Luís Francisco Aguiar-Conraria & Pedro C. Magalhães & Christoph A. Vanberg, 2013. "Experimental evidence that quorum rules discourage turnout and promote election boycotts," NIPE Working Papers 14/2013, NIPE - Universidade do Minho.
  • Handle: RePEc:nip:nipewp:14/2013

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.

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