Voting and Not Voting: The Principal Explanations

  • Henk Dekker
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Political Psychology Series book series (PSPP)


What are the principal explanations for voting or not voting? This is one of the intriguing questions that we address in this chapter. We present the reader with the main theories, summarise the empirical evidence collected so far and discuss the remaining research questions. In many countries, turnout is in decline, although there are clear exceptions from this pattern. Voting, however, is important for democratic legitimacy and an unrepresentative turnout can lead to an unrepresentative group interest representation. Generally, turnout is lowest among the youngest age group, and through generational replacement these newly enfranchised citizens influence overall turnout. In many countries, there have been efforts to increase turnout and reverse a downward trend. An important motivation for research on this topic is the desire to create clarity about the determinants of voting, so that these can be used in future attempts to positively influence voter turnout. The main scientific motivation for this type of research is to test the various theories in order to explain voting behaviour.


Political Participation Vote Behaviour Political Interest Voter Turnout American Political Science Review 
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© Henk Dekker 2014

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