Many scholars have investigated the relationship between ideological orientations and mass participation, and there is also a growing number of studies comparing political attitudes and behaviour between electoral winners and losers. This article seeks to bring together these two strands of literature with respect to political participation, focusing on the interaction between citizens’ winner/loser status and ideological distance from their government. Analysis of data from 34 countries highlights the importance of this interactive effect: while previous works suggest that losers have a greater propensity to take part in political activities, it is shown here that this relationship holds true only when losers occupy a position along the left-right spectrum distant from the government. Furthermore, while the hypothesised interactive effect is empirically confirmed for turnout, the magnitude of its impact is much greater for more costly modes of participation such as contacting, campaigning and protesting.
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