Voter turnout in young democracies

My SNF Ambizione project explores the development of voter turnout in third-wave democracies in Latin America and post-communist Europe. The project focuses on challenges that young democracies typically face such as widespread corruption, populism, weak institutionalization of the party system and ethnic divides and explores how these issues impact on voter turnout. The common thread of the articles exploring these issues is that all of them take into account the impact of individual parties and their interactions on individuals’ voting decision.

Corruption and vote choice

The article explores how political parties and the structure of party system mediates the relationship between individuals’ corruption perception and their vote choice. I argue that individuals who are more worried about corruption are more likely to support oppositional parties if they emphasize the need to combat corruption more. Second, voters who are more concerned about corruption are less likely to support governing parties if polarization between governing and oppositional parties is higher. The empirical analysis relies on a set of 26 democracies including established and young democracies. I combine individual-level data relying on the 2nd wave of the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems dataset, with data on parties’ programmatic positions making use of the Comparative Manifesto Project and with data that is controlling a range of factors at the level of countries based on a diverse set of comparative datasets. To test the hypotheses, I have estimated hierarchical logit regression models with three different dependent variables: 1) participation, 2) support of government, 3) support of opposition.

Minority protection policies, ethnic polarization and the success of radical right

In this article, I explore the impact of the introduction of language minority rights on voter turnout and the electoral support of radical right parties. I argue that language minority rights in local communities such as bilingual public signs increase the visibility of the multi-ethnic character of the community and increase the relevance of ethnic identification as a factor in individuals’ voting decision. I expect that the introduction of local language minority rights triggers a backlash against ethnic minorities in the short run. Therefore, ethnic polarization, turnout and the support of radical right parties increases. In the long run, I expect that these effects disappear because of norm adaption and socialization. My empirical analysis relies on the longitudinal analysis of Romanian electoral data and makes use of a difference in differences design.

Do Populist Parties Revive Participation? A Cross-Regional Analysis with Saskia Ruth-Lowell

This paper explores whether and under what conditions populist mobilization challenging established parties revives political participation in young and old democracies. While previous studies have explored this question at the aggregate level studying turnout in national elections, this study explores the impact of populist mobilization on the individual level from a cross-regional perspective. Building on previous literature arguing that populist parties and candidates mobilize citizens that have been disappointed by mainstream parties and have less trust in politics, we first, analyze whether and when new and established populist forces are more likely to mobilize voters who have not participated in the last election in comparison to mainstream political parties or incumbents. Second, we compare the characteristic of both populist supporters who indicated to have not voted in the previous election with those supporters who voted in the last election. The study tests these arguments estimating multi-level models relying the Comparative Study of Electoral System (CSES) dataset.