Who stops voting and why? : party ideology shift and voter demobilisation
Title: Who stops voting and why? : party ideology shift and voter demobilisation
Author: PANOV, Trajche
Citation: Florence : European University Institute, 2016
Series/Number: EUI PhD theses; Department of Political and Social Sciences
The number of citizens participating at the elections is shrinking, the new cohorts of voters participate less, and the number of voters that used to vote and stop voting is increasing. The aim of this thesis is to investigate the reasons why these citizens, whom I refer to as the new non-voters, stop voting. I argue that spatial model of voting which is based on the claim that voters vote for the party which is the closest to their position on the ideological spectrum and thus every shift of the party demands vote swing of the voters and opposite has limits to explain the behaviour of the new non-voters. Based on the standard revealed preference argument and building on the exit, voice and loyalty model, I argue that instead of voters deciding to shift voting for another party once the party shifts its ideological positions, they decide to exit participation in reaction to the party's inconsistency. The thesis shows that the number of new non-voters varies among countries. Post-communist countries, countries with majoritarian systems and non-compulsory voting have higher number of new non-voters. Testing my theoretical model on an individual level, results show evidence in support of my main hypothesis, that ideological inconsistency influences voters to stop voting. Ideology matters and the new non-voters stop voting when parties they used to vote for change their ideological positions. Additionally, younger, poorer, dissatisfied, divorced, and more educated voters with weaker party identification are more eager to become new non-voters. An in-depth analysis on US voters using panel data confirms the findings of the large N -Analysis. Ideological inconsistency strongly influences voters' decision to stop voting. Digging deeper, testing the ideological shifts in eight different policy areas, the thesis shows that traditional topics have a very strong demobilizing power for electoral participation. Traditional values and shifts in positions on human rights have a very strong impact on the decision of voters to stop casting a ballot. Results also show that political parties that make more dramatic changes of their ideological positions lose bigger number of their supporters. This is especially clear for parties around the center, while party families on the extremes lose less of their supporters no matter the change of their ideological positions. This thesis contributes trilaterally to the state of art. It offers a different theoretical approach in explanation of the voters' behaviour. If focuses on a specific category of voters which has been understudied and offers empirical evidence at individual, party and country level for the new non-voters.
LC Subject Heading: Political participation; Political parties; Voting; Democracy
Defence date: 9 June 2016; Examining Board: Professor Alexander H. Trechsel, European University Institute (Supervisor); Professor Hanspeter Kriesi, European University Institute; Professor Levente V. Littvay, Central European University; Professor Jonathan Nagler, New York University.
Type of Access: embargoedAccess