DOI: 10.5553/RP/048647002010052001004

Res PublicaAccess_open


Opkomstplicht in Vlaanderen: een gespreide slagorde?

Onderzoek naar de gelaagdheid van houdingen ten aanzien van de opkomstplicht

Keywords compulsory voting, Belgium, turnout, multi level context
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Dries Verlet, Ann Carton and Marc Callens, "Opkomstplicht in Vlaanderen: een gespreide slagorde?", Res Publica, 1, (2010):45-71

    Belgium is one of the advanced Western democracies with compulsory voting. There is continuing scholarly and societal debate on this feature of the electoral system, however, both form a normative and an empirical perspective. One argument in favor of compulsory voting is that it more or less guarantees the inclusion of all citizens of the political system, at least at election time. This paper addresses this argument in an empirical way on the basis of a 2007 survey from Flanders, by analyzing the potential drop outs at various layers of the political system and in different geographical locations in the case of the abolition of compulsory voting. It concludes that without the system of compulsory voting some particular groups of citizens will turn out in lower numbers than other groups. In the explanation of these diverging levels of turnout individual level characteristics are most important, e.g. political powerlessness, level of education, gender, age, as well as societal involvement and political preference. As a result of the abolition of compulsory voting the Flemish electorate will show itself in a differing electoral order of battle.

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