Electoral Turnout 1

Kees Aarts, Bernhard Wessels

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic

    28 Citations (Scopus)


    According to modernisation theory, electoral participation should become less important in modern democracies. “Modern” citizens feel more capable of handling their own political affairs, thus they will decide for themselves when and how to get involved in political action, and consequentially will not automatically cast their vote. This view has in recent years often been rephrased into the expectation that electoral turnout in Western societies will decrease. However, this expectation is at odds with current knowledge about the development of the most important individual characteristic associated with electoral participation — i.e. the level of education — thus giving rise to a “puzzle of turnout”. This chapter addresses the turnout puzzle and provides an alternative explanation of varying turnout figures: the political context of the election. The political context (polarisation, degree of alienation and of indifference) is shown to account for trends and fluctuations in turnout in the six European democracies for up to 40 years.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe European Voter
    Subtitle of host publicationA Comparative Study of Modern Democracies
    EditorsJacques Thomassen
    Place of PublicationNew York, NY
    PublisherOxford University Press
    ISBN (Print)0-19-927321-9
    Publication statusPublished - 2005

    Publication series

    NameComparative politics
    PublisherOxford University Press


    • Turnout
    • Political involvement
    • Puzzle of turnout


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