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Who is responsible? The effect of clarity of responsibility on voter turnout

Park, B. B. ORCID:, Frantzeskakis, N. and Shin, J. (2019) Who is responsible? The effect of clarity of responsibility on voter turnout. West European Politics, 42 (3). pp. 464-494. ISSN 1743-9655

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/01402382.2018.1479497


Does voters’ ability to discern who is responsible for policy outcomes affect voter turnout? Although particular institutional arrangements which influence this ability – known as clarity of responsibility – appear to affect how voters form retrospective judgements, existing literature is less informed about its role on voter turnout. This article argues that voters tend to turn out less if they cannot discern who is responsible for policy outcomes. This lack of clarity hinders the process of retrospective evaluations, makes the electoral stakes less profound, and dampens the voters’ political efficacy. Using 396 elections in 34 established democracies between 1960 and 2015, it is found that lower clarity of responsibility is associated with lower voter turnout. This study highlights the importance of clarity of responsibility, as it enhances democratic accountability, not only by encouraging retrospective voting, but also by increasing political participation.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:No Reading authors. Back catalogue items
Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Politics, Economics and International Relations > Politics and International Relations
ID Code:92855

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