BASEES Annual Conference 2022

Examining "vote rigging" and the "bandwagon effect" in Eastern European elections: are turnout rates and diversity of outcome connected?

Fri8  Apr04:40pm(20 mins)
Umney Theatre


Nikita Shalaev


Does turnout influence the election result? Does diversity of outcome increase with higher turnout rates, e.g. by mobilizing previously dormant electoral groups, or does it decrease due to previously dormant voters supporting the leader of the race? Or perhaps all groups of the electorate are equally prone to absenteeism, and the diversity of electoral choices remains constant at all turnout levels? While this question is of interest to psephology in general, in recent years it was approached from yet another, quite practical angle: can changes in diversity be used as an indicator of vote rigging? Yet most known forms of vote rigging are expected to produce results indistinguishable from those arising due to massive bandwagon effect. This paper seeks to establish whether such lower diversity of outcome at higher turnout rates is a regular occurrence, and whether its observations coincide with previous allegations of electoral fraud. To that end, I examine the turnout rates and several diversity measures on polling station level in 14 Eastern European countries. The results suggest that the overall diversity of electoral choices tends to be roughly constant across the whole range of observed turnout rates save for the lowest and highest values, where fluctuations are naturally more pronounced. Therefore, the bandwagon effect is uncharacteristic for Eastern European elections. The few exceptions are also the cases where the fairness of elections was widely disputed.