Chapter

THE INEQUALITY OF ELECTORAL PARTICIPATION IN EUROPE AND AMERICA AND THE POLITICALLY INTEGRATIVE FUNCTIONS OF THE WELFARE STATE

Jens Alber and Ulrich Kohler

in United in Diversity?

Published in print October 2009 | ISBN: 9780195376630
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199865499 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195376630.003.0004

Series: International Policy Exchange Series

THE INEQUALITY OF ELECTORAL PARTICIPATION IN EUROPE AND AMERICA AND THE POLITICALLY INTEGRATIVE FUNCTIONS OF THE WELFARE STATE

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The Eastern enlargement of the European Union (EU) raised the issue as to what extent the new member states would follow in the policy footsteps of the old member states rather than taking the United States as their role model. Drawing a polemical distinction between “old” and “new Europe”, a former U.S. secretary of defense suggested that the Central and Eastern European countries might adhere more closely to the United States as the superpower that helped end their dependence upon the Soviet Empire. This chapter examines to what extent patterns of political participation differ between the United States and Europe, and where exactly the new member states fit in this comparison. It shows that electoral turnout is higher and less socially skewed in Western Europe than in the United States. The higher inclusiveness of the (Western) European State(s) fosters political integration and the equality of electoral participation. Differences between Europe and America diminish considerably when the analysis is confined to the pensioner generation, whose integration into welfare state schemes is largely similar on both sides of the Atlantic.

Keywords: European Union; United States; political participation; electoral participation; social inequality

Chapter.  9842 words.  Illustrated.

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