More Representation, Less Radicalism: How Compulsory Voting Was Defended in Europe

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This chapter examines how the practice of compulsory voting was debated in Belgium and France at the turn of the twentieth century. Two principal arguments in favour of compulsory voting stand out. One builds on the concept of ‘true’, ‘exact’ and ‘mirror’ representation. Abstention, it is argued, creates a ‘false’ and ‘corrupt’ image of majority will; by summoning all voters, parliaments will be more representative, election results more credible, and democracies more legitimate. The second argument is that compulsory voting brings out the moderate vote. Radicals tend to either boycott elections or obsess about them. By contrast, abstainers are thought to be less passionate about voting, thus less radical in their views. Compulsory voting will prevent ‘turbulent minorities’ from being overrepresented and more influential than they deserve. As well as justifying compulsory voting historically, these arguments can also provide valuable conceptual resources for thinking about ways of countering the crisis of contemporary democracies.
Titel på värdpublikationA Century of Compulsory Voting in Australia
Undertitel på värdpublikationGenesis, Impact and Future
RedaktörerMatteo Bonotti , Paul Strangio
FörlagPalgrave Macmillan
Antal sidor233
ISBN (tryckt)978-981-334-025-1
StatusPublished - 2021 mar 18


NamnElections, Voting, Technology

Bibliografisk information

About the book
Compulsory voting has operated in Australia for a century, and remains the best known and arguably the most successful example of the practice globally. By probing that experience from several disciplinary perspectives, this book offers a fresh, up-to-date insight into the development and distinctive functioning of compulsory voting in Australia. By juxtaposing the Australian experience with that of other representative democracies in Europe and North America, the volume also offers a much needed comparative dimension to compulsory voting in Australia. A unifying theme running through this study is the relationship between compulsory voting and democratic well-being. Can we learn anything from Australia’s experience of the practice that is instructive for the development of institutional bulwarks in an era when democratic politics is under pressure globally? Or is Australia’s case sui generis – best understood in the final analysis as an intriguing outlier?

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Statsvetenskap (exklusive studier av offentlig förvaltning och globaliseringsstudier)


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