Party strategies and the partisan consequences of turnout.


GT 4.6 Avances en el estudio del comportamiento electoral en España

Autor/a
Ignacio Lago Peñas (Universitat Pompeu Fabra)
Coautor/es
Kelly Rowe

One of the most controversial propositions in the voting behavior literature is that the highest the turnout the highest the left share of the vote is. Since better off citizens are more likely to vote than less well off citizens, and since there are assumed to be clear differences in policy and party preferences between these groups, low turnout biases election outcomes such that rightwing parties gain at the expense of left-of-centre alternatives. However, the empirical evidence is not conclusive. We argue that this disagreement has to do with the primordial conception of class voting assumed by existing scholarship. Given that there exists some degree of social and/or economic inequality in any country, class inevitably would mold individual voting behavior in all societies in the same way. But why has turnout partisan consequences in some societies but nor in others? Our argument is that the correlation between turnout and electoral results is a function of the saliency of class in a society. Although class cleavage has a social component, it is politically constructed: the differential benefit in terms of class for an individual associated with the election of various governments is an effect of the activities of political parties. We test our argument with a comparison between Portugal and Spain, two third-wave democracies countries with a similar degree of income inequality and electoral system, but with different positions of the two main leftist and right parties in terms of its overall ideological stance and its ideological stance on economic issues