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Disentangling the effects of political fragmentation on voter turnout: the Flemish municipal elections
[Auswirkungen politischer Zersplitterung auf die Wahlbeteiligung: die flämischen Kommunalwahlen]


  • Geys, Benny
  • Heyndels, Bruno


Political fragmentation has been shown to be an important determinant of electoral turnout. We introduce an empirical approach that allows disentangling the impact of two dimensions of such fragmentation: the number of parties and the size inequalities between those parties. This is important as it allows us to assess the size, significance and direction of the individual effects of each element – an aspect disregarded in previous research. Our empirical analysis of the 2000 Flemish municipal elections shows that a higher number of parties competing in the election lowers turnout. The size-inequalities between the parties exert a positive – though insignificant – influence on voter participation.

Suggested Citation

  • Geys, Benny & Heyndels, Bruno, 2006. "Disentangling the effects of political fragmentation on voter turnout: the Flemish municipal elections
    [Auswirkungen politischer Zersplitterung auf die Wahlbeteiligung: die flämischen Kommunalwahle
    ," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Processes and Governance SP II 2006-07, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:wzbmpg:spii200607

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Davies, Stephen, 1980. "Measuring Industrial Concentration: An Alternative Approach," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 62(2), pages 306-309, May.
    2. repec:cup:apsrev:v:85:y:1991:i:04:p:1383-1391_18 is not listed on IDEAS
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    4. William H. Kaempfer & Anton D. Lowenberg, 1993. "A Threshold Model of Electoral Policy and Voter Turnout," Rationality and Society, , vol. 5(1), pages 107-126, January.
    5. Franklin, Mark N., 1999. "Electoral Engineering and Cross-National Turnout Differences: What Role for Compulsory Voting?," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 29(01), pages 205-216, January.
    6. 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.
    7. Kirchgassner, Gebhard & Schimmelpfenning, Jorg, 1992. "Closeness Counts If It Matters for Electoral Victory: Some Empirical Results for the United Kingdom and the Federal Republic of Germany," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 73(3), pages 283-299, April.
    8. Kirchgassner, Gebhard & Himmern, Anne Meyer Zu, 1997. "Expected Closeness and Turnout: An Empirical Analysis for the German General Elections, 1983-1994," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 91(1), pages 3-25, April.
    9. Ashworth, John & Heyndels, Bruno & Smolders, Carine, 2002. "Redistribution as a Local Public Good: An Empirical Test for Flemish Municipalities," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(1), pages 27-56.
    10. Davies, Stephen W, 1979. "Choosing between Concentration Indices: The Iso-Concentration Curve," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 46(181), pages 67-75, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Rodrigo Martins & Francisco Veiga, 2013. "Economic performance and turnout at national and local elections," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 157(3), pages 429-448, December.
    2. Federico Revelli, 2013. "Tax limits and local democracy," Working Papers 2013/29, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    3. Amrita Dillon & GANI ALDASHEV, 2015. "Voter Turnout and Political Rents," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 17(4), pages 528-552, August.
    4. 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.
    5. John Ashworth & Benny Geys & Bruno Heyndels, 2006. "Everyone likes a winner: An empirical test of the effect of electoral closeness on turnout in a context of expressive voting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 128(3), pages 383-405, September.

    More about this item


    Voter turnout; political fragmentation; local elections;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • H70 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - General


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