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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter June 11, 2019

Abstentionism, Voting Advice Applications and Voting Activation

Javier Ramos, Javier Padilla and Enrique Chueca

Abstract

Voting Advice Applications (VAAs) have proliferated in the last decade as part of electoral campaigns in Europe. Several studies have linked the usage of the applications to an increase in voting intention, yet the literature on the factors that make people more likely to be influenced by VAAs is not really developed. This paper tries to contribute to this literature by addressing two key questions: first, how non-institutional forms of political participation influence abstentionism among VAA users and second, how VAA encourages voting intention among these politically engaged abstentionists (activation effect). We first examine (a) whether being engaged in non-institutional forms of participation increases the likelihood of a VAA user declaring him/herself to be a voter and (b) whether being engaged in non-institutional forms of political participation has an effect on the probability of becoming a “voter” after filling in the VAA questionnaire. Our results suggest that the VAA “activation effect” nexus exists and it affects a significant percentage of abstentionist. Those users that have participated in non-institutional forms of participation – such as demonstrations or online petitions – are more likely to declare being voters before filling in the VAA. Among the abstentionists, once they answered the set of 30 key questions, a considerable percent (between 14 and 22 percent depending on the threshold used) declared to have the intention to vote (activation effect). The prevailing profile of the activated user is a young man with tertiary education. The motivational reason for voting a party also matter in increasing the probability that an “activation effect” happens. The competency of the party, its ideology, the candidate presented by the party and the users’ self-interest are also good predictors of the “activation effect.”

Appendix

This appendix intends to supplement the above research by offering the regressions and marginal effects applied to the national samples in order to provide information about the specific marginal effects each of the variables take on each of the countries. Also, we provide the statistical definition of the variables used in the modelling of this paper and the first three tables intend to provide the distribution of the participation of the over-30-year-old users in non-institutional forms of participation.

Table A1:

Percentage of Over 30 VAA users who went to a Demonstration in the Last 12 Months.

Country Have you attended a demonstration in the last year?
Measure No Yes Total
Portugal Absolute 2029 1148 3177
Relative 63.87% 36.13%
Spain Absolute 3585 6013 9598
Relative 37.35% 62.65%
UK Absolute 2715 434 3149
Relative 86.22% 13.78%
Total Absolute 8329 7595 15,924
Relative 52.3% 74.7%

Table A2:

Percentage of Over 30 VAA users who Signed an Online Petition in the Last 12 Months.

Country Have you signed a petition in the last 12 months?
Measure No Yes Total
Portugal Absolute 648 2529 3177
Relative 20.4% 79.6%
Spain Absolute 2212 7386 9598
Relative 23.05% 76.95%
UK Absolute 537 2612 3149
Relative 17.05% 82.95%
Total Absolute 3397 12,527 15,924
Relative 23.33% 78.67%

Table A3:

Correlations between Demonstrating and Signing an Online Petition for the Whole Sample.

Demonstration Petition
Demonstration 1
Petition 0.2557 1

Table A4:

National Logistic Regression.

Logisitc regression of being activated by the EU-Vox
Portugal total Portugal (18–30) Portugal (30–94) Spain total Spain (18–30) Spain (30–94) UK Total UK (18–30) UK (30–94)
DV: Being activated by the EU-Vox
Young −0.110 0.0816 0.0735
(0.267) (0.168) (0.214)
Demonstration 0.118 0.166 −0.0307 0.345 0.553* 0.142 0.343 0.317 0.323
(0.338) (0.483) (0.497) (0.190) (0.270) (0.292) (0.336) (0.439) (0.572)
Petition −0.291 −0.354 −0.0509 0.266 0.134 0.484 −0.00096 −0.594 0.444
(0.297) (0.449) (0.428) (0.197) (0.251) (0.338) (0.248) (0.403) (0.344)
Liberal-Conservative −0.0474 −0.0545 −0.0307 −0.0703 −0.0821 −0.0613 0.0225 −0.0334 0.108
(0.0600) (0.0895) (0.0873) (0.0395) (0.0505) (0.0705) (0.0445) (0.0612) (0.0685)
Economic Right-Left 0.0271 −0.0894 0.0782 −0.0641 0.0482 −0.233** 0.00666 −0.0517 0.0441
(0.0570) (0.0860) (0.0839) (0.0477) (0.0619) (0.0835) (0.0488) (0.0714) (0.0722)
More EU-Less EU 0.113* 0.114 0.0969 0.0475 0.0332 0.0563 0.0513 0.0481 0.0769
(0.0517) (0.0820) (0.0727) (0.0261) (0.0362) (0.0398) (0.0396) (0.0599) (0.0567)
−0.110 0.0816 0.0735
No reason to vote 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
(.) (.) (.) (.) (.) (.) (.) (.) (.)
Competency 1.892*** 1.846** 1.657 2.196*** 2.100*** 2.340*** 0.993* 1.074 1.089
(0.532) (0.648) (1.003) (0.331) (0.414) (0.577) (0.440) (0.560) (0.766)
Ideology 1.594*** 1.390*** 1.822*** 1.729*** 1.594*** 1.961*** 0.808*** 0.969** 0.666*
(0.282) (0.420) (0.400) (0.193) (0.258) (0.299) (0.224) (0.324) (0.320)
Self-interest 1.353 1.079 0 2.104*** 1.726** 2.883** 0.960 1.465 0.416
(1.445) (1.464) (.) (0.450) (0.540) (0.897) (0.760) (0.945) (1.463)
Family 0.461 0 0 0 0 0 1.820 1.167 0
Interest (1.284) (.) (.) (.) (.) (.) (1.149) (1.313) (.)
Candidate 1.015 −0.298 1.523* 1.578** 1.510* 1.708* 0.139 −0.791 0
(0.594) (1.208) (0.753) (0.501) (0.637) (0.797) (0.795) (1.168) (.)
Gender −0.0265 0.412 −0.354 −0.173 −0.240 0.00599 −0.227 −0.334 −0.0771
(0.286) (0.395) (0.463) (0.205) (0.264) (0.345) (0.243) (0.324) (0.411)
University −0.359 −0.181 −0.310 0.0552 0.0454 0.0974 −0.0668 0.0769 −0.138
(0.298) (0.523) (0.461) (0.170) (0.266) (0.291) (0.245) (0.347) (0.399)
Age −0.0848 0.0184 −0.00105 0.0116 0.0105 −0.00366
(0.0655) (0.0210) (0.0352) (0.0152) (0.0423) (0.0137)
Constant −1.221* 1.007 −2.285* −2.171*** −2.029* −2.863*** −0.766 −0.229 −1.526
(0.599) (1.572) (1.145) (0.354) (0.906) (0.809) (0.522) (1.264) (1.010)
Pseudo R2 0.136 0.210 0.192 0.150 0.182 0.236 0.045 0.138 0.099
Observations 325 149 173 839 458 378 402 210 188

  1. DV: Being activated by the EU-Vox 2014 (1-being activated; 0-not-being activated). The sample are those users that initially declared as not-having the intention of voting at the European Election. There are 3 models for each country, 1 with all the population and the dummy variable young (1 being young and 0 not being young), and the other with young and old users. We use these regressions for the second set of three hypotheses.

Table A5:

National Samples of Logistic Regressions.

Logisitc regression of being activated by the EU-Vox
Portugal total Portugal (18–30) Portugal (30–94) Spain total Spain (18–30) Spain (30–94) UK total UK (18–30) UK (30–94)
DV: Initially declared voting
Young −0.153 −0.336*** −0.435***
(0.117) (0.0701) (0.113)
Demonstration 0.625*** 0.228 0.859*** 0.357*** 0.372*** 0.450*** 0.192 0.295 0.0263
(0.147) (0.225) (0.196) (0.0801) (0.113) (0.116) (0.173) (0.227) (0.271)
Petition 0.168 0.163 0.133 0.381*** 0.381*** 0.270* 0.492*** 0.142 0.752***
(0.132) (0.193) (0.185) (0.0804) (0.108) (0.122) (0.133) (0.207) (0.179)
Liberal-Conservative −0.101*** −0.123** −0.0708 −0.0550** −0.0421 −0.0414 −0.00990 0.00384 −0.0117
(0.0277) (0.0444) (0.0364) (0.0171) (0.0226) (0.0272) (0.0246) (0.0347) (0.0356)
Economic Right-Left 0.0545* 0.0613 0.0334 0.0558** 0.0459 0.0599 0.0272 0.00685 −0.00772
(0.0258) (0.0401) (0.0348) (0.0192) (0.0247) (0.0309) (0.0253) (0.0365) (0.0372)
More EU-Less EU 0.0860*** 0.0704* 0.101*** 0.103*** 0.0829*** 0.121*** −0.0149 −0.000634 −0.00598
(0.0216) (0.0334) (0.0287) (0.0111) (0.0155) (0.0164) (0.0225) (0.0327) (0.0321)
No reason to vote 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
(.) (.) (.) (.) (.) (.) (.) (.) (.)
Competency 1.320*** 0.853** 1.963*** 1.219*** 1.397*** 1.015*** 0.891*** 0.916** 1.051**
(0.232) (0.300) (0.402) (0.148) (0.188) (0.242) (0.226) (0.291) (0.380)
Ideology 1.174*** 1.266*** 1.154*** 1.239*** 1.206*** 1.303*** 1.069*** 1.078*** 1.099***
(0.127) (0.199) (0.167) (0.0743) (0.103) (0.108) (0.119) (0.176) (0.166)
Self-interest 1.324* 0.644 0 1.131*** 0.895*** 1.648*** 0.625 0.497 1.101
(0.623) (0.682) (.) (0.203) (0.241) (0.399) (0.380) (0.457) (0.757)
Family 0.509 0.455 0.708 1.311* 1.008 1.632 0.646 0.814 0.848
Interest (0.651) (0.840) (1.077) (0.614) (0.780) (1.034) (0.501) (0.659) (0.795)
Candidate 1.376*** 1.519** 1.265*** 1.224*** 1.083*** 1.345*** 0.614 0.406 1.246
(0.289) (0.480) (0.364) (0.218) (0.289) (0.337) (0.426) (0.543) (0.764)
Gender −0.112 0.0814 −0.414* −0.154 −0.0760 −0.352** −0.116 0.0611 −0.450*
(0.127) (0.178) (0.191) (0.0840) (0.110) (0.134) (0.125) (0.165) (0.203)
University 0.637*** 0.556* 0.429* 0.344*** 0.185 0.121 0.158 0.486** −0.204
(0.137) (0.224) (0.197) (0.0703) (0.112) (0.111) (0.125) (0.181) (0.191)
Age 0.0882** 0.0225* 0.0786*** 0.00889 0.0310 0.0255***
(0.0278) (0.00897) (0.0160) (0.00573) (0.0225) (0.00743)
Constant 0.258 −1.842* −0.462 0.229 −1.913*** 0.0913 0.818** −0.564 0.0955
(0.267) (0.715) (0.525) (0.144) (0.400) (0.320) (0.282) (0.664) (0.531)
Pseudo R2 0.096 0.100 0.116 0.088 0.089 0.089 0.048 0.047 0.071
Observations 3027 1201 1808 9046 3971 5075 2899 1231 1668

  1. Dependent variable: Declaring at the beginning of the questionnaire the intention to vote (1 declare being a voter; 0 declare being a non-voter). There are 3 models for each country, 1 with all the population and the dummy variable young (1 being young and 0 not being young), and two with the sample of young and non-young users. We use these regressions for the first set of three hypotheses.

Table A6:

Marginal Effects of Logistic Regression of being Activated by the EU-Vox (Tables A3 and A4).

Marginal Effects of logistic regression of being activated by the EU-Vox
Portugal total Portugal (18–30) Portugal (30–94) Spain total Spain (18–30) Spain (30–94) UK total UK (18–30) UK (30–94)
Young −0.0214 0.0145 0.0173
(0.0519) (0.0298) (0.0503)
Demonstration 0.0230 0.0323 −0.00562 0.0614 0.104* 0.0227 0.0807 0.0713 0.0750
(0.0657) (0.0940) (0.0910) (0.0335) (0.0498) (0.0465) (0.0784) (0.0981) (0.133)
Petition −0.0566 −0.0689 −0.00930 0.0472 0.0251 0.0771 −0.000226 −0.133 0.103
(0.0575) (0.0868) (0.0782) (0.0349) (0.0470) (0.0533) (0.0583) (0.0888) (0.0785)
Liberal-Conservative −0.00922 −0.0106 −0.00562 −0.0125 −0.0154 −0.00977 0.00528 −0.00749 0.0251
(0.0116) (0.0174) (0.0160) (0.00697) (0.00939) (0.0112) (0.0104) (0.0137) (0.0155)
Economic Right-Left 0.00528 −0.0174 0.0143 −0.0114 0.00904 −0.0371** 0.00156 −0.0116 0.0103
(0.0111) (0.0165) (0.0152) (0.00845) (0.0116) (0.0129) (0.0115) (0.0160) (0.0167)
More EU-Anti EU 0.0221* 0.0223 0.0177 0.00844 0.00623 0.00898 0.0120 0.0108 0.0179
(0.00984) (0.0157) (0.0131) (0.00460) (0.00676) (0.00629) (0.00924) (0.0134) (0.0129)
No reason to vote 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
(.) (.) (.) (.) (.) (.) (.) (.) (.)
Competency 0.368*** 0.360** 0.303 0.390*** 0.394*** 0.373*** 0.233* 0.241* 0.253
(0.0958) (0.113) (0.178) (0.0533) (0.0698) (0.0849) (0.101) (0.121) (0.174)
Ideology 0.310*** 0.271*** 0.333*** 0.307*** 0.299*** 0.313*** 0.190*** 0.218** 0.155*
(0.0437) (0.0700) (0.0549) (0.0284) (0.0413) (0.0374) (0.0491) (0.0665) (0.0710)
Self-interest 0.263 0.210 0 0.374*** 0.324*** 0.460*** 0.226 0.329 0.0969
(0.280) (0.283) (.) (0.0762) (0.0975) (0.136) (0.177) (0.208) (0.340)
Family 0.0897 0 0 0 0 0 0.427 0.262 0
Interest (0.250) (.) (.) (.) (.) (.) (0.267) (0.293) (.)
Candidate 0.198 −0.0580 0.279* 0.280** 0.284* 0.272* 0.0326 −0.178 0
(0.114) (0.235) (0.132) (0.0873) (0.117) (0.125) (0.187) (0.261) (.)
Gender −0.00516 0.0802 −0.0647 −0.0307 −0.0451 0.000955 −0.0533 −0.0750 −0.0179
(0.0557) (0.0760) (0.0844) (0.0365) (0.0494) (0.0551) (0.0569) (0.0722) (0.0956)
University −0.0698 −0.0352 −0.0568 0.00981 0.00852 0.0155 −0.0157 0.0173 −0.0322
(0.0575) (0.102) (0.0840) (0.0303) (0.0500) (0.0463) (0.0575) (0.0779) (0.0927)
Age −0.0165 0.00337 −0.000196 0.00185 0.00236 −0.000851 −0.0165
(0.0125) (0.0038) (0.00660) (0.00241) (0.00950) (0.00319) (0.0125)
Observations 325 149 173 839 458 378 402 210 188

Table A7:

Marginal Effects of Logistic Regression of Being Initially Active.

Marginal Effects of logistic regression of being initially active
Portugal total Portugal (18–30) Portugal (30–94) Spain total Spain (18–30) Spain (30–94) UK total UK (18–30) UK (30–94)
Young −0.0161 −0.0318*** −0.0513***
(0.0123) (0.00663) (0.0133)
Demonstration 0.0658*** 0.0267 0.0820*** 0.0338*** 0.0429*** 0.0346*** 0.0227 0.0411 0.00259
(0.0155) (0.0264) (0.0187) (0.00758) (0.0130) (0.00899) (0.0204) (0.0316) (0.0268)
Petition 0.0177 0.0191 0.0127 0.0360*** 0.0439*** 0.0208* 0.0580*** 0.0198 0.0743***
(0.0139) (0.0226) (0.0177) (0.00760) (0.0124) (0.00942) (0.0156) (0.0288) (0.0176)
Liberal-Conservative −0.0106*** −0.0144** −0.00676 −0.00521** −0.00484 −0.00318 −0.00117 0.000534 −0.00115
(0.00290) (0.00518) (0.00347) (0.00162) (0.00260) (0.00210) (0.00290) (0.00483) (0.00351)
Economic Right-Left 0.00574* 0.00720 0.00319 0.00528** 0.00528 0.00461 0.00320 0.000954 −0.000762
(0.00271) (0.00469) (0.00332) (0.00181) (0.00284) (0.00238) (0.00298) (0.00508) (0.00367)
More EU-Anti EU 0.00904*** 0.00826* 0.00967*** 0.00975*** 0.00955*** 0.00935*** −0.00176 −0.0000883 −0.000591
(0.00226) (0.00390) (0.00273) (0.00105) (0.00178) (0.00127) (0.00265) (0.00455) (0.00317)
No reason to vote 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
(.) (.) (.) (.) (.) (.) (.) (.) (.)
Competency 0.139*** 0.100** 0.187*** 0.115*** 0.161*** 0.0781*** 0.105*** 0.128** 0.104**
(0.0244) (0.0350) (0.0385) (0.0140) (0.0215) (0.0187) (0.0266) (0.0401) (0.0374)
Ideology 0.123*** 0.149*** 0.110*** 0.117*** 0.139*** 0.100*** 0.126*** 0.150*** 0.109***
(0.0132) (0.0229) (0.0158) (0.00699) (0.0115) (0.00852) (0.0139) (0.0238) (0.0163)
Self-interest 0.139* 0.0756 0 0.107*** 0.103*** 0.127*** 0.0737 0.0692 0.109
(0.0654) (0.0801) (.) (0.0191) (0.0277) (0.0308) (0.0447) (0.0635) (0.0748)
Family 0.0535 0.0534 0.0676 0.124* 0.116 0.126 0.0761 0.113 0.0838
Interest (0.0685) (0.0986) (0.103) (0.0581) (0.0898) (0.0796) (0.0590) (0.0916) (0.0785)
Candidate 0.145*** 0.178** 0.121*** 0.116*** 0.125*** 0.104*** 0.0724 0.0565 0.123
(0.0303) (0.0561) (0.0347) (0.0206) (0.0331) (0.0260) (0.0502) (0.0756) (0.0755)
Gender −0.0118 0.00956 −0.0395* −0.0146 −0.00875 −0.0271** −0.0136 0.00851 −0.0445*
(0.0134) (0.0209) (0.0183) (0.00795) (0.0127) (0.0103) (0.0148) (0.0230) (0.0201)
University 0.0670*** 0.0653* 0.0409* 0.0326*** 0.0213 0.00928 0.0186 0.0677** −0.0201
(0.0143) (0.0261) (0.0187) (0.00665) (0.0129) (0.00852) (0.0147) (0.0250) (0.0189)
Age 0.0104** 0.00215* 0.00905*** 0.000684 0.00432 0.00252***
(0.00324) (0.000856) (0.00184) (0.000441) (0.00313) (0.000735)
Observations 3027 1201 1808 9046 3971 5075 2899 1231 1668

Table A8:

Variable Description.

Variable Mean Std. Dev. Min Max
Activated 0.56177 0.496188 0 1
Initially Active 0.874655 0.331121 0 1
Young 0.377167 0.484692 0 1
Demonstration 0.476953 0.499484 0 1
Petition 0.786674 0.409669 0 1
Liberal-Conservative 3.307084 2.557268 0 10
Economic Left-Right 2.377795 2.454986 0 10
Pro-Anti EU 6.130934 3.05416 0 10
Competency 0.080865 0.272637 0 1
Ideology 0.599312 0.490054 0 1
Self-interest 0.027215 0.162714 0 1
Family interest 0.005586 0.074532 0 1
Candidate 0.036568 0.187705 0 1
Gender 0.744168 0.436341 0 1
University 0.700764 0.457938 0 1

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Published Online: 2019-06-11
Published in Print: 2019-06-26

©2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston