Datum: 14 september 2016
Prof. Dr. Armin Schäfer, Institut Für Sozialwissenschaften, Universität Osnabrück
As turnout has declined in many developed democracies, it has also become more unequal. Recent studies show that citizens with low socio-economic status stay away from the polls in disproportionate numbers. The gap in political participation is most pronounced in countries with high levels of income inequality. Analyzing both cross-sectional and longitudinal data, I will first show the growing disparity in turnout levels. In a second step, I will take a closer look at Germany and ask whether or not social groups differ in their political preferences. If they did not, unequal participation would be less of a concern for democracy. However, there are consistent patterns of opinion differences linked to social groups. Political decisions, in turn, are closely aligned with the opinions of the better-off to the detriment of the poor. Hence, the numerical underrepresentation of lower classes in Parliament might be more consequential than conventional theories of representation are ready to admit.
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