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.

Claus Michelsen

Head of Department in the Forecasting and Economic Policy Department

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