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ECPR Futures Lab 2020

Perceptions of the Room to Manoeuver of National Government under Economic Globalisation and Individual Electoral Participation

Nils Steiner
Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Nils Steiner
Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

Economic globalization is generally believed to erode the room to maneuver of national governments. Starting from this premise, recent research argues that economic globalization might have negative consequences for electoral turnout as voters might perceive that it makes less of a difference who gets elected under room to maneuver-constraints. This previous research analyzes this hypothesis on the macro level studying whether aggregate turnout is lower in more globalized settings (Steiner, Nils D. 2010: “Economic globalization and voter turnout in established democracies.” Electoral Studies 29(3): 444–459). An analysis of the underlying process on the micro level is, however, missing: Do individual perceptions of whether national governments enjoy less leeway under economic globalization lead to a lower individual inclination to vote?
The proposed contribution aims to analyze the effect of these room to maneuver-perceptions on the readiness to participate in national elections on the individual level. Theoretically, it draws on an augmented version of the classical rational choice based „calculus of voting“-model of electoral turnout according to which turnout depends on perceived costs and benefits of voting. This framework is used to identify through which mechanisms economic globalization might affect electoral participation.
Empirically, the paper makes use of available datasets that contain items which tap into perceptions of national sovereignty under economic globalization and on electoral participation. Because these surveys come with different advantages and disadvantages (in terms of fit of the question wording to the room to maneuver-idea, countries covered and availability of control variables), results are cross-checked through the use of multiple surveys. Specifically, I employ two cross-national datasets: A study administered by Tim Hellwig (“Economic Globalization and Mass Politics Ten Country Study”) in 2008, and the Eurobarometer 71.3 from 2009. In addition, I look into single-nation election surveys from France (1997) and the UK (panel study from 1997-2001).
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