Electoral Cycles and Turnout in Multilevel Electoral Systems

Arjan H. Schakel, Regis Dandoy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


This article differentiates between three ways in which electoral cycles may impact on participation in elections. First, it identifies a simultaneity effect - turnout increases to the extent that elections are held on the same date. A second effect is voter fatigue - turnout declines when another election has just been held before. Poll voting is a third effect. It suggests that turnout increases when another election is to be held shortly after. On the basis of a novel dataset that includes 2,915 regional elections held in 317 regions and 18 countries from 1945 to 2009, evidence is found for all three effects. The results point towards a basic dilemma in multilevel electoral systems: increase turnout by holding elections on the same date but accept high vote congruence across elections or decouple election cycles, which decreases vote congruence but lowers participation rates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)605-623
Number of pages19
JournalWest European Politics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


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