Seminar with Anja Neundorf (University of Nottingham)
The title of presentation: "Political Habit Formation under Democratic and Authoritarian Elections"
This paper addresses the understudied but crucial question of how authoritarian elections (or the lack of them) shape habitual voting behavior. We consider individual voter turnout in elections in democracies and autocracies between 1975 and 2015 across the entire world including Latin America, Africa, Europe, and Central & East Asia. We use newly harmonized public opinion survey data covering over 106 countries combined with Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) indicators to capture the diverse character of authoritarian elections and estimate generational differences in voter turnout. We show that indeed the opportunity to participate in elections in the formative years positively affects later-life turnout. However, the impact of these early opportunities on long-term habitual voting is conditional on the meaningfulness of the elections experienced. In fact, the less truly competitive early electoral experiences are, the less likely a newly eligible voter is to become a habitual voter later in life. This research has important implications not only for understanding voter turnout in new democracies but also habitual voting in general.