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SPP 438

Author: Ulrich Kohler and Richard Rose
Description: An election outcome is a function of the electoral system, the offices at stake and the number of parties competing as well as the party choices of voters. Therefore, any attempt to estimate the impact of an increase in turnout on an election outcome must go beyond an analysis of the preferences of non-voters. This paper presents a model which integrates these different types of influences. It shows the limited conditions in which increasing turnout could have an impact on an election outcome in a European parliamentary election by proportional representation and in one-round and two-round presidential elections. It concludes that assuming that all other conditions would remain equal if turnout were to rise is unrealistic becomes it ignores the feedback effect on parties and on voters. The normative debate between advocates of civic participation and the freedom not to vote remains open.

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Postal Address:    CSPP Publications, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, G1 1XQ, UK

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CSPP School of Government & Public Policy U. of Strathclyde Glasgow G1 1XQ Scotland