New Publications on the Effect of Voter Turnout on Election Results
News from Jan 22, 2021
Two new publications by Arndt Leininger, research associate at the Centre for Political Sociology Germany, have recently been published in the journals Electoral Studies and Party Politics.
Coattails and spillover-effects: Quasi-experimental evidence from concurrent executive and legislative elections
Concurrent elections are widely used to increase turnout. We theorize and show empirically how concurrency affects electoral outcomes. First, concurrency increases turnout and thereby the participation of peripheral voters. Second, in combined elections, one electoral arena affects the other. In our case of majoritarian executive elections concurrent to proportional representation (PR) legislative elections, the centripetal tendency of majoritarian elections colors off to the concurrent PR race. Third, concurrency also entails spillovers of the incumbency advantage of executive officeholders to the concurrent legislative race. Drawing on quasi-random variation in local election timing in Germany, we show that concurrency increases turnout as well as council votes for the incumbent mayor's party and centrist parties more generally, with slightly more pronounced gains for the political left. As a consequence, concurrent elections consolidate party systems and political power by leading to less fragmented municipal councils and more unified local governments.
Electoral participation, political disaffection, and the rise of the populist radical right
Does the populist radical right benefit from increased electoral mobilization? Integrating theories of political grievances with accounts of party competition in Western Europe, we contend that the populist right gains advantage from increased electoral mobilization, but that this effect is conditional on political disaffection. We draw on a novel panel dataset (2009–2019) of more than 10,000 German municipalities and city districts to study the implications of turnout surges as a function of pre-existing levels of political disaffection in a difference-in-differences design. The results demonstrate that turnout surges benefit the populist right “Alternative für Deutschland” (AfD) in contexts of widespread political distrust. In contrast, increased mobilization acts to depress its electoral fortunes in communities marked by low baseline levels of political disaffection. In shedding light on the interplay between political disaffection and electoral mobilization, this study has important implications for understanding the surge of the populist right in established democracies.