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Can mass media mobilize and empower voters in elections? A multi-level analysis of established democracies


Müller, L (2010). Can mass media mobilize and empower voters in elections? A multi-level analysis of established democracies. In: Jahreskongress der Schweizerischen Vereinigung für Politische Wissenschaft, Geneva, Switzerland, 7 January 2010 - 8 January 2010.

Abstract

In modern democracies, elections are considered the central mechanism for people to control their elected representatives. They allow voters who are dissatisfied with those in power to periodically punish and replace them. However, this requires that political decision-making is transparent and that alternative party options are actually evident in the electoral contest. Based on normative democratic theory, this paper argues that mass media may contribute to both of these premises and thus mobilize voters to go to the polls. Accordingly, I assume that well-balanced and critical media coverage leads to a higher turnout. So far, only few studies exist which test these assumptions in a large comparative setting. To provide more empirical evidence on the relationship between media coverage and political participation, this contribution combines data about press systems and from newspaper content analyses with opinion surveys and performs multi-level analyses for a range of established democracies. Contrary to the assumptions, I find that an ideological balance within the press system does not motivate citizens to take part in elections. In addition, newspaper reports about official misconduct tend to keep voters away from the ballot boxes.

In modern democracies, elections are considered the central mechanism for people to control their elected representatives. They allow voters who are dissatisfied with those in power to periodically punish and replace them. However, this requires that political decision-making is transparent and that alternative party options are actually evident in the electoral contest. Based on normative democratic theory, this paper argues that mass media may contribute to both of these premises and thus mobilize voters to go to the polls. Accordingly, I assume that well-balanced and critical media coverage leads to a higher turnout. So far, only few studies exist which test these assumptions in a large comparative setting. To provide more empirical evidence on the relationship between media coverage and political participation, this contribution combines data about press systems and from newspaper content analyses with opinion surveys and performs multi-level analyses for a range of established democracies. Contrary to the assumptions, I find that an ideological balance within the press system does not motivate citizens to take part in elections. In addition, newspaper reports about official misconduct tend to keep voters away from the ballot boxes.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper), not refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Political Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:320 Political science
Language:English
Event End Date:8 January 2010
Deposited On:26 Jan 2010 14:21
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 13:45
Related URLs:http://www.sagw.ch/de/svpw/taetigkeiten/Kongress/Kongress-2010.html
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-27584

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