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