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Citizens, Context, and ChoiceHow Context Shapes Citizens' Electoral Choices$
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Russell J. Dalton and Christopher J. Anderson

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199599233

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199599233.001.0001

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Electoral Supply and Voter Turnout

Electoral Supply and Voter Turnout

(p.33) 2 Electoral Supply and Voter Turnout
Citizens, Context, and Choice

Miki Caul Kittilson (Contributor Webpage)

Christopher J. Anderson (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Electoral institutions shape the potential costs and benefits of participation. This chapter argues that their effect on voter turnout is indirect by shaping the variety and stability of choices available to voters. Specifically, electoral institutions can produce political conditions that pull citizens into the democratic process by making voting meaningful, but that also push away those predisposed to abstain. The chapter's analysis of data from thirty-one contemporary democracies collected by the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems project suggest that party system polarization powerfully influences voter engagement, and that these effects are contingent on a citizen's sense of external efficacy. Citizens who feel that voting matters and that who is in power makes a difference are more likely to vote if they live in countries where parties present more polarized policy profiles. By contrast, those who are less efficacious are substantially less likely to vote if the party system is more polarized.

Keywords:   electoral participation, voter turnout, CSES, polarization, party systems, electoral supply, efficacy

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