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Participation, Information and Democracy
The Consequences of Low Levels of Participation and Information for the Functioning of Democracy
According to mainstream democratic theory, the ideal citizen in a democracy should participate regularly in political activities and be well informed. The reality, however, is somewhat different. Election turnout is declining or low in many countries and studies have shown that most citizens are poorly informed about politics. This book discusses what consequences low turnout and low information might have: would higher levels of turnout and better informed citizens lead to different political outcomes in elections and other types of votes? This empirical analysis draws two conclusions. First, it shows that political outcomes sometimes would be different if turnout and information levels were higher, but that no one political party would systematically benefit from that. Second, it shows that especially low levels of information among the voters, but less so low turnout, tend to produce distortions in the sense that if people were better informed, they would sometimes but not always have chosen different parties and policies.
Georg Lutz studied political science and history in Berne and Geneva and currently works at the University of Berne. His main research and teaching focus is political behaviour and political institutions.