Electoral participation in the Netherlands: Individual and contextual influences

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Research into electoral participation has produced two traditions, one focusing mainly on individual level explanations while the second concentrates primarily on aggregate level explanations. By bringing these two research approaches together, we are not only able to explain individual electoral participation more thoroughly, but we also gain additional insight into the influence of aggregate level characteristics on individual behavior. We combine eight National Election Studies held in the Netherlands between 1971 and 1994 enabling us to study variation on the individual and the contextual (aggregate) level, including interactions between these two levels. Findings show that the addition of contextual characteristics form a significant improvement to an individual level model predicting electoral participation. Findings also confirm our expectation that the influence of individual characteristics such as education or political interest is dependent upon contextual characteristics describing for instance the salience of the election.

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