Universal turnout and its implications: 2012 Parliamentary elections in Montenegro

by Slaven Živkovic,

The link between turnout and election outcome remains somewhat of a mystery as many scholars try to estimate whether and what kind of effect different levels of turnout have on election results. Numerous studies, showing that participation is in decline, fostered the debate around this link. Researchers are trying to measure whether the ever-growing number of non-voters would, if they decided to vote, produce some changes or whether voters politically well represent the whole population. We would expect turnout to matter to election results when the party of non-voters is homogenous. This is why we are looking again at this question in the Montenegrin context, where one party, nowadays often perceived as pro-Montenegrin, has dominated the country’s politics and been the incumbent party since the introduction of pluralism. Voters of the opposition parties, from the main social cleavage in the country, are rather homogenous. But even though they are voting for the opposition, they lack the belief that change might happen in elections. Using the first post-electoral study and the first exit poll survey in Montenegro, we run a series of logistic regressions, testing the most prominent theories about voting abstention. Afterwards, we create a simulation for election results under universal turnout. We find evidence that Serbians have a lower probability of turning out than Montenegrins. The effect is not strong enough to produce a different outcome in the case of 100% turnout.

published in Vol 17 - No 2 - 2017 // General issue

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  • Larry Diamond Stanford University
  • Tom Gallagher University of Bradford
  • Alena Ledeneva University College London
  • Michael McFaul Stanford University
  • Philippe Schmitter Stanford University
  • Helen Wallace London School of Economics and Political Science

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