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Voter Turnout and Europe-related Policies in Post-communist Europe

Mikolaj Czesnik
SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities
Mikolaj Czesnik
SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities
Open Panel

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to analyze in detail consequences of lowering voter turnout in CEE countries. I hypothesize that lowering voter turnout was associated with increasing support for pro-European parties (or more broadly defined pro-European camp). I asses my hypothesis through quantitative analysis of electoral data from pre-accession period (years 1990-2003, 10 new EU member states). My statistical analysis suggests that support for pro-European parties was gradually increasing (in most CEE countries) as the voter turnout was going down. The analysis therefore has important implications for our understanding of voter turnout decrease in CEE. Usually it has been argued that this process has only negative consequences. My findings show somewhat different picture: successful EU enlargement and accession of 10 new members was possible not despite the lowering voter turnout, but due to this process. If voter turnout had not been decreasing, more citizens would have participated in elections (among them opponents of accession), election results had been different, anti-European parties had been stronger, and thus the whole process of accession had been much more complex and difficult to control (or maybe even unsuccessful).