Boosting turnout in second-order elections - A quantitative study on the benefits of holding local elections at the same day as the European Parliament election
Abstract: Since the installment of direct elections to the European Parliament, turnout has been falling. The implications of low, and ever falling, turnout are many. By holding second-order elections in the form of local elections on the same day as the election for the European Parliament, which also is a second-order election, turnout increases. This thesis estimates that turnout would increase by approximately 8-9% when elections are held concurrently. This is tested using panel data for all member states of the European Union in the elections of 2004-2014. Also, the underlying factors for this effect on turnout are examined in all concurring national- and EP elections between 1979-2014. The two competing factors are the cost of voting and the salience of the election. Of the two it is the cost of voting that mostly explains the positive effect of the concurrent elections. By testing the concurrent second-order elections over time and across countries it provides a more robust understanding of the phenomena, adding to the previous research. Moreover, it displays a low-cost tool for policymakers to boost turnout in less important elections by holding them together with either other less important elections (second-order) or with more important elections (first-order).
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