Not all 'second-order' contests are the same: Turnout and party choice at the concurrent 2004 local and European Parliament elections in England

  • Rallings C
  • Thrasher M
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Abstract

The European Parliament elections in June 2004 coincided with local elections in many parts of England. In four regions of the country these elections were conducted entirely by postal ballots; in four other regions traditional methods of polling were used. Overall turnout was higher where all-postal voting was in place, but having local in addition to European elections made an inde- pendent and significant contribution to the level of electoral participation in all postal and non- postal regions alike. The pattern of party choice at the two types of contest also varied considerably. The three major political parties together took a much larger share of the overall vote at the local than at the European elections, and each independently ‘lost’ a sizeable number of its local votes to smaller parties. Aggregate level analysis suggests that voters assess the importance of electoral contests along a continuum and, in Britain in 2004 at least, treated local elections as less ‘second- order’ than pan-European ones

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Authors

  • Colin Rallings

  • Michael Thrasher

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