Alexander Wuttke
When the world around you is changing: Investigating the Influence of Alienation and Indifference on Voter Turnout

S. 146-166 in: Harald Schoen, Sigrid Roßteutscher, Rüdiger Schmitt-Beck, Bernhard Weßels, Christof Wolf (Hrsg.): Voters and Voting in Context: Multiple Contexts and the Heterogeneous German Electorate. 2017. Oxford: Oxford University Press

This chapter investigates the amount of variability in individual turnout decisions over time and its dependence on the changing characteristics of political parties as one feature of the political context. Electoral participation in the German federal elections from 1994 to 2013 was characterized by inertia for most eligible voters. However, one reason for dynamics in turnout behavior is changes in individual alienation with regard to the political parties. When voters develop a more favorable view of the political parties than in the previous election in terms of the parties’ generalized evaluation or perceived competence, then they are motivated to switch from abstention to voting (and vice versa). But the political parties’ capacity to raise turnout rates is rather narrow compared to the influence of other determinants, such as the perceived duty to vote.