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Did Bill C-24 Affect Voter Turnout? Evidence from the 2000 and 2004 Elections

  • Peter John Loewen (a1) and André Blais (a1)

Abstract

Abstract. By tying subsidies to vote totals, Bill C-24 substantially changed the way Canadian national parties are financed. This raises the possibility of increased voter turnout, as parties face greater incentives to maximize vote totals, and voters face greater incentives to turn out. We consider this possibility. We show that turnout was not differently affected by closeness in 2004 than in 2000; that candidates' efforts were not greater in 2004 in more marginal ridings; that there were no differences in the likelihood of abstaining or deserting a preferred third-place party in 2004 and 2000; and that at the individual level, the decision to turn out was not affected by strategic considerations in the expected direction. Accordingly, we find little support for the possibility that C-24 increased turnout.

Résumé. En liant les subventions au total des votes obtenus, la loi C-24 modifie substantiellement le financement des partis politiques nationaux au Canada. Ce changement pourrait induire une augmentation de la participation électorale puisque les partis ont intérêt à maximiser le nombre de votes et les électeurs sont davantage incités à voter. Nous examinons cette hypothèse. Nous démontrons que l'influence de l'intensité de la lutte entre les candidates sur la participation électorale n'a pas été différente en 2004 qu'en 2000; que les efforts des candidats n'ont pas été plus intenses en 2004 dans les circonscriptions perdues à l'avance; que la probabilité de s'abstenir ou de renoncer à appuyer un tiers parti n'a pas changé entre 2000 et 2004; et que la décision individuelle de participer à l'élection n'a pas été influencée par des considérations stratégiques allant dans la direction prévue. En conséquence, nous trouvons peu de preuves confirmant l'hypothèse selon laquelle la loi C-24 a favorisé la participation électorale.

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Corresponding author

Peter John Loewen, Département de science politique, Université de Montréal, C.P. 6128, succursale Centre-ville, Montréal QC H3C 3J7 Canada; peter.john.loewen@umontreal.ca
André Blais, Département de science politique, Université de Montréal, C.P. 6128, succursale Centre-ville, Montréal QC H3C 3J7 Canada; andre.blais@umontreal.ca

References

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References

Blais, André, Elisabeth Gidengil, Richard Nadeau and Neil Nevitte. 2002. Anatomy of a Liberal Victory. Peterborough: Broadview.
Clarke, Kevin. 2005. “The Phantom Menace: Omitted Variable Bias in Econometric Research.” Conflict Management and Peace Science 22: 34152.
Cox, Gary. 1997. Making Votes Count. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Duverger, Maurice. 1954. Political Parties, Their Organization and Activity in the Modern State. New York: Wiley.
House of Commons. 2003. “Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.” April 30, 2003. Available at http://www.parl.gc.ca/InfoComDoc/37/2/HAFF/Meetings/Evidence/HAFFEV36-E.HTM#Int-520414 (March 9, 2006).
Ibbitson, John. 2004. “Your vote has extra value for your party.” The Globe and Mail (Toronto), May 25, 2004.
SES Research. 2005. “Large Majority of Canadians Unaware of Recent Reforms in Campaign Finance.” Available at http://www.sesresearch.com/library/polls/POLNAT-SU05-T147.pdf (March 9, 2006).

Did Bill C-24 Affect Voter Turnout? Evidence from the 2000 and 2004 Elections

  • Peter John Loewen (a1) and André Blais (a1)

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