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Sharing Competences: The Impact of Local Institutional Settings on Voter Turnout

Institutions are common predictors of voter turnout. Most research in this field focuses on cross-country comparisons of voting systems, like the impact of compulsory voting or registration systems. Fewer efforts have been devoted to understand the role of local institutions and their impact on political participation. Especially the impact of divided competences in relation to public good provision and its impact on voter turnout has been widely ignored. In the present paper, we analyze the effects of different institutional settings for inter-municipal cooperation on voter turnout. We use data from local elections in Germany, held in 2003 and 2004. Overall, we analyze aggregate voter turnout of 1661 municipalities and find strong evidence for our hypothesis that local institutional settings are influential in this context. Further, our results indicate that the better competences correspond to the spatial dimension of local public goods, the higher should be the voter turnout.

13. October 2010

Authors Claus Michelsen Peter Bönisch Martin T. W. Rosenfeld

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