Sources of Participation and Abstention

Jean Blondel, Richard Sinnott and Palle Svensson

in People and Parliament in the European Union

Published in print July 1998 | ISBN: 9780198293088
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598814 | DOI:
 Sources of Participation and Abstention

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Having briefly considered the evidence of correlations between demographic characteristics and participation/abstention, Ch. 8 categorizes the large number of potential influences on participation/abstention under six headings: institutional and political context, personal characteristics, political attitude, second‐order‐election‐model effects, attitudes to the European Union and the European Parliament, and campaign exposure. On the basis of a number of logistic regressions with the key types of abstention as dependent variables, the analysis leads to five main conclusions. Firstly, some but not all of the contextual variables, usually thought to affect abstention, have a substantial impact. Secondly, the evidence shows that the personal characteristic with the most consistent effect on abstention is age; social class effects appear to be quite limited and the effects of education appears to be, at best, modest. Thirdly, contrary to the findings of previous research, attitudes to the European Union have significant effects on abstention. Fourthly, the second‐order explanation of abstention in European Parliament elections receives little or no support from the evidence; in particular, perceptions indicating a presumed process of second‐order reasoning do not predict voluntary Euro‐specific abstention. Finally, active exposure to the campaign significantly reduces voluntary Euro‐specific abstention.

Keywords: abstention; age; attitudes to European integration; campaign exposure; elections; European Parliament; participation; second‐order election; social class; turnout

Chapter.  12478 words. 

Subjects: Politics

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