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Campaigning in Direct Democracies: Initiative Petition Signing, Voter Turnout, and Acceptance

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  • Jaronicki, Katharina

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Abstract

This paper investigates whether petition signing campaigns for popular initiatives constitute a partisan campaigning instrument by revealing potentially relevant information to the signer which increases the benefit from voting or reduces its cost. The analysis is based on the complete sample of Swiss federal initiatives between 1978 and 2000 with aggregate voting data at state level. The results suggest that initiatives collecting many signatures yield higher approval rates at the polls. Petition signing is, however, not significantly related to turnout, and is dominated by initiative-specific characteristics. To show that the relation between signatures collected and acceptance reflects a causal campaigning effect, several approaches are pursued to control for voter preferences which potentially could drive both signatures and acceptance rates. This research relates to turnout and voting literature in general, and to campaigning and voter motivation more specifically. Further, it extends a small stream of literature analyzing signature collection for initiatives.

Suggested Citation

  • Jaronicki, Katharina, 2013. "Campaigning in Direct Democracies: Initiative Petition Signing, Voter Turnout, and Acceptance," Economics Working Paper Series 1333, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
  • Handle: RePEc:usg:econwp:2013:33
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    File URL: http://ux-tauri.unisg.ch/RePEc/usg/econwp/EWP-1333.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:cup:apsrev:v:93:y:1999:i:02:p:381-398_21 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Feld, Lars P. & Matsusaka, John G., 2003. "Budget referendums and government spending: evidence from Swiss cantons," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(12), pages 2703-2724, December.
    3. Matsusaka, John G & Palda, Filip, 1999. "Voter Turnout: How Much Can We Explain?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 98(3-4), pages 431-446, March.
    4. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135-135.
    5. Timothy Feddersen & Alvaro Sandroni, 2006. "A Theory of Participation in Elections," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1271-1282, September.
    6. repec:cup:apsrev:v:77:y:1983:i:03:p:675-689_24 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Patricia Funk, 2010. "Social Incentives and Voter Turnout: Evidence from the Swiss Mail Ballot System," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(5), pages 1077-1103, September.
    8. Timothy J. Feddersen, 2004. "Rational Choice Theory and the Paradox of Not Voting," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(1), pages 99-112, Winter.
    9. Stephen Coate & Michael Conlin, 2004. "A Group Rule–Utilitarian Approach to Voter Turnout: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1476-1504, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:poleco:v:48:y:2017:i:c:p:16-39 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Hofer, Katharina E. & Marti, Christian & Bütler, Monika, 2017. "Ready to reform: How popular initiatives can be successful," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 16-39.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Direct democracy; Initiatives; Signatures; Campaigning; Turnout; Voting; Information;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General

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