Participation in hard times: how constrained government depresses turnout among the highly educated
Existing studies on electoral turnout in times of economic crisis have predominantly focused on disadvantaged voters. However, during the recent economic crisis, turnout among highly educated citizens has strongly declined as well. Existing resource-based theories of political participation cannot account for this. This article suggests that the anticipation of government inefficacy is an important driver of abstention among highly educated. Where governments are severely constrained, these citizens anticipate that the hands of future governments will be tied. Hence they are more likely to abstain out of frustration or rational calculations. The study uses the recent economic crisis as test case, as it entails particularly acute constraints on several European governments. The cross-sectional and longitudinal evidence – based on ESS survey data and different measures of government constraint in 28 European countries – provides ample support for the argument.
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