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Turnout in Local Elections: Evidence from Canadian Cities, 2004–2014

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 July 2017

Sandra Breux*
Institut National de Recherche Scientifique
Jérôme Couture*
Université Laval and INRS-UCS
Royce Koop*
University of Manitoba
Institut National de Recherche Scientifique, Centre Urbanisation Culture et Société, 385 rue Sherbrooke Est, Montréal QP, H2X 1E3, email:
Université Laval and INRS-UCS, 385 rue Sherbrooke Est, Montréal PQ, H2X 1E3, email:
Department of Political Studies, University of Manitoba, 532 Fletcher Argue, Winnipeg MB, R3 T 2N2, email:


We provide the first wide-scale analysis of the factors that influence voter turnout in Canadian local elections. Drawing on original data from 300 municipal elections conducted from 2004 to 2014, we use ordinary least squares regression with panel-corrected standard errors for time series cross-sections to test explanatory hypotheses related to differences in institutional design, the social-spatial context of these elections, and local competitiveness. Our results show that, although institutional and sociospatial factors influence local turnout, the competitiveness of elections exercises the greatest influence on local electoral participation.


Cet article dresse un premier portrait systématique des facteurs explicatifs de la participation électorale à l’échelle municipale au Canada. À partir d’une analyse de régression de type O.L.S. avec P.C.S.E portant sur les 100 plus grandes villes canadiennes entre 2004 et 2014 (N = 300), nous testons trois grands types d'hypothèses reliées 1) au contexte institutionnel; 2) au contexte socio-spatial et 3) à la compétitivité de l'élection. Notre analyse révèle que les facteurs institutionnels et socio-spatiaux détiennent une influence sur la participation électorale à l’échelle municipale et que la compétitivité de l’élection est l’élément qui exerce l’influence la plus importante.

Research Article
Copyright © Canadian Political Science Association (l'Association canadienne de science politique) and/et la Société québécoise de science politique 2017 

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