Voter Participation in the 1998 Bundestag Elections: A Theoretical Modification and Empirical Application of Downs’ Theory of Voter Participation

Becker, Rolf (2002). Voter Participation in the 1998 Bundestag Elections: A Theoretical Modification and Empirical Application of Downs’ Theory of Voter Participation. German politics, 11(2), pp. 39-87. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group 10.1080/714001284

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This article seeks to contribute to the illumination of the so-called 'paradox of voting' using the German Bundestag elections of 1998 as an empirical case. Downs' model of voter participation will be extended to include elements of the theory of subjective expected utility (SEU). This will allow a theoretical and empirical exploration of the crucial mechanisms of individual voters' decisions to participate, or abstain from voting, in the German general election of 1998. It will be argued that the infinitely low probability of an individual citizen's vote to decide the election outcome will not necessarily reduce the probability of electoral participation. The empirical analysis is largely based on data from the ALLBUS 1998. It confirms the predictions derived from SEU theory. The voters' expected benefits and their subjective expectation to be able to influence government policy by voting are the crucial mechanisms to explain participation. By contrast, the explanatory contribution of perceived information and opportunity costs is low.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Education > Sociology of Education

UniBE Contributor:

Becker, Rolf

Subjects:

300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 370 Education
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology

ISSN:

0964-4008

Publisher:

Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group

Language:

English

Submitter:

Rolf Becker

Date Deposited:

28 Jul 2014 17:03

Last Modified:

28 Jul 2014 17:03

Publisher DOI:

10.1080/714001284

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/44559

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