Direkt zum Inhalt

David and Goliath in the Poll Booth: Group Size, Voting Power and Voter Turnout

Discussion Papers 1491, 23 S.

Peter Bönisch, Benny Geys, Claus Michelsen


get_appDownload (PDF  7.05 MB)

Published in: Local Government Studies 45 (2019), 5, S. 724-747


This article analyses how the presence of a dominant group of voters within the electorate affects voter turnout. Theoretically, we argue that both the absolute size and the relative power of a dominant group influence voters' decision-making process. The former effect derives from increased free-riding incentives and reduced social pressure to vote within a larger dominant group, while the latter effect is driven by instrumental and expressive responses-in both the dominant and dominated groups-to electoral competition between groups. Our empirical analysis of a large cross-section of German municipalities confirms this joint importance of a dominant group's absolute and relative size for voter turnout. Such effects should thus be taken into account when redesigning electoral jurisdictions through, for instance, municipal mergers or gerrymandering.

JEL-Classification: D70;D72;H11;H40
Keywords: Voter turnout, power, group size, merger, gerrymandering
Frei zugängliche Version: (econstor)