Left Parties, Poor Voters, and Electoral Participation in Advanced Industrial Societies
Although income inequality is an important normative issue for students of democratic politics, little is known about its effects on citizens' electoral participation. The authors develop a formal model of the incentives for left parties to mobilize lower income voters. It posits that countries' income distributions and competition on the left provide different incentives for left parties to mobilize lower income voters. In the absence of political competition, higher levels of income inequality reduce the incentives of dominant left parties to target lower income voters. However, competition on the left creates incentives for a dominant left party to mobilize lower income voters, thus counteracting the negative impact of inequality on parties' incentives to target them. As a consequence, the negative association between inequality and turnout at the aggregate level is muted by the presence of several parties on the left side of the political spectrum. Using aggregate data on elections in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries between 1980 and 2002 and election surveys collected in the second wave of the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems project, the authors find strong and consistent support for their model. © The Author(s) 2012.
Anderson, CJ; Beramendi, P
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