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Where is the class bias attenuation? The consequences of adopting compulsory voting in Austria-Hungary in 1907

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 February 2021

Karel Kouba*
Department of Politics, Philosophical Faculty, University of Hradec Králové, Hradec Králové, Czech Republic


Adopting compulsory voting (CV) legislation is expected to produce near-universal turnout, which in turn is assumed to iron out class-based differences in political influence and representation. The article traces the historical process generating the sequential adoption of CV in 8 of the 17 Cisleithanian crownlands of the Austro-Hungarian empire in 1907 and 1911, and leverages a difference-in-differences (DiD) method to estimate its causal effect on turnout and voting patterns in elections to the Imperial Council. Exploiting unique data on the turnout of citizens based on their occupational categories, it further examines whether the adoption of CV attenuated class bias in turnout. Despite a large boost to turnout, CV neither increased support for parties representing the working classes, nor attenuated the class bias in turnout.

Research Article
© The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of European Consortium for Political Research

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