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Macro and micro level influences on non-voting in Europe: A multi level analysis

Michael Beck
Universität Bern
Andreas Hadjar
Open Panel

Abstract

This paper focuses on the research question ‘Who does not vote and why?’ regarding national elections in 24 European countries. We analyse determinants of non-voting both on the individual and the societal level employing a multilevel design. On the micro level, the sociological determinants under consideration are education, cohort and gender. Regarding psychological or motivational factors, we include in the analyses political efficacy, political interest, political trust and satisfaction with politics. On the macro level, we analyse characteristics of the electoral system, including opportunities for ‘direct democracy’, maturity of democracy, disproportionality factor, and if the participation in elections is compulsory. The data source of the analyses is the European Social Survey 2006. A first main finding is the fact that the probability of non-voting is higher among people with a low level of education and among younger cohorts. The motivational factors have similar impacts on non-voting across all analysed societies. Lack of political efficacy, lack of political interest, lack of political trust and dissatisfaction with politicians and the political system increase the probability of non-voting. Regarding macro influences, countries with compulsory voting and ‘old democracies’ turn out to have a lower rate of non-voting, although these effects vanish when simultaneously modelled with the social psychological micro level indicators.