Voting and the expanding repertoire of participation

Authored by: Jan W. van Deth

The Routledge Handbook of Elections, Voting Behaviorand Public Opinion

Print publication date:  September  2017
Online publication date:  September  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138890404
eBook ISBN: 9781315712390
Adobe ISBN:


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Since elections are the hallmark of democracy voting occupies a unique position among the many ways people can be engaged in politics. Only elections have formal consequences for the distribution of political power and the legitimacy of political decisions and decision-making procedures. Democracy, therefore, cannot exist without general suffrage. The widely recognized significance and uniqueness of voting and elections for the quality of democracy have been challenged by two seemingly related developments: whereas citizens in many countries are staying away from the polls in record numbers, other forms of political participation have become increasingly popular. By now, the repertoire of participation is virtually endless covering forms as different as casting a vote, signing petitions, demonstrating, donating money, attending flash mobs, contacting public officials, buying fair-trade products, signing petitions, boycotting, guerrilla gardening, volunteering, organizing blogs, and suicide protests.

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