Effective number of parties and mass political behavior in Europe

Jakub Pawel Zajakala, University of Texas at El Paso


Participation is perhaps the most essential component of democracy, as its humane facet, people, is indispensable for it to occur. However, some aspects of this phenomenon have been disregarded in the existing literature. A discernible decrease in the quality and quantity of democratic participation is deemed to endanger the representative capacity of democracy, and consequently, stability of parliamentary and presidential regimes. Using Prais-Winsten regression, the condition of democratic institutions, with an emphasis on the number of parties, is examined by looking at all the European democracies between 1946 and 2014. This thesis posits that the number of effective actors on the political scene affects both invalid vote rates and voter turnouts. As a result of an increase in the number of parties, the former is hypothesized to decrease; whereas the latter, to draw a downward opened parabolic function. Contrary to expectations, opposite correlations are found. Voters, even if turning out in low numbers, meticulously evaluate the representation that the system provides them with. Therefore, I find that some analyses that herald a near complete extinction of engaged voters are premature. Nonetheless, policy makers, especially those whose decisions impact the electoral systems, should pay attention to competitiveness and representativeness, which if handled properly, attract more voters.

Subject Area

European Studies|Political science

Recommended Citation

Zajakala, Jakub Pawel, "Effective number of parties and mass political behavior in Europe" (2015). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1594251.