Who decides? Characteristics of a Vote and its Influence on the Electorate

Dermont, Clau; Stadelmann, Isabelle (2018). Who decides? Characteristics of a Vote and its Influence on the Electorate. Representation - the journal of representative democracy, 54(4), pp. 391-413. Routledge 10.1080/00344893.2018.1550109

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Unequal participation is a persistent matter of concern both in electoral and direct democracy. In this contribution, we focus on direct democratic votes and investigate how vote characteristics such as overall turnout, complexity or ballot length affect participation by age and gender and reinforce or mitigate unequal participation. Empirically, the analysis is based on registered panel participation data from a Swiss city, which enabled us to trace individual turnout over several years, allowing observing at which votes citizens chose to participate and at which votes they stayed away from the ballot box, building on the concept of selective participation. The results show that a high turnout is indeed related to a higher equality both with regards to the gender and age gap in participation, and especially complex votes deter young voters from participation. However, the moderating effects do not change the strong overrepresentation of older age groups and men who participate at each vote or even increase overrepresentation.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Institute of Political Science

UniBE Contributor:

Dermont, Clau, Stadelmann, Isabelle


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 320 Political science








Isabelle Stadelmann

Date Deposited:

17 Apr 2019 09:52

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:25

Publisher DOI:




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