Inequality of Political Participation


It is well known that lower social strata participate in politics less frequently and intensely than the more well-to-do. However, international comparative studies have shown that the amount of social inequality in political participation differs strongly between societies. The project analyses causes and consequences of these differences. In particular, it focuses on the question of why are some democracies more successful at integrating the lower strata in the political system. Furthermore, it focuses on the conditions under which the so called "democratic dilemma" of unequal participation (Lijphardt) arises. Possible answers to these questions include differences in the electoral systems, as well as in the nature of the cleavages in the various societies.

Main content


Linking international comparative surveys likeEuropean Social Survey (ESS), European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS), International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) und Comparative Study of Elections Systems (CSES)together with aggregate indicators for election systems, welfare state regimes, etc.

Selected Publications

Kohler, Ulrich (2011): "Der Mehrheitswille zählt. Einfluss der Nichtwähler auf die Regierungsbildung ist geringer als angenommen". In: WZB-Mitteilungen, No. 132, S. 18-21.
Kohler, Ulrich/Rose, Richard (2010): "Under What Circumstances Could Maximising Turnout Alter an Election Result?". In: Representation - Journal of Representative Democracy, Vol. 46, No. 2, S. 119-138.
Kohler, Ulrich/Rose, Richard (2008): Election Outcomes and Maximizing Turnout. Modelling the Effect. WZB Discussion Paper SP I 2008-203. Berlin: WZB.
Kohler, Ulrich/Rose, Richard (2008): Under What Conditions Can Non-Voters Affect an Election Outcome?. Studies in Public Policy 438. Aberdeen: Centre for the Study of Public Policy an der University of Aberdeen.
Alber, Jens/Kohler, Ulrich (2008): The Inequality of Electoral Participation in Europe and America and the Politically Integrative Functions of the Welfare State. WZB Discussion Paper SP I 2008-202. Berlin: WZB.
Alber, Jens/Kohler, Ulrich (2007): "Die Ungleichheit der Wahlbeteiligung in Europa und den USA und die politische Integrationskraft des Sozialstaats". In: Leviathan - Berliner Zeitschrift für Sozialwissenschaft, Jg. 35, H. 4, S. 510-539.

Kohler, U. (2006), Die soziale Ungleichheit der Wahlabstinenz in Europa, in Jens Alber & Wolfgang Merkel, ed.,'Europas Osterweiterung: Das Ende der Vertiefung?', Edition Sigma, Berlin, pp. 159-182.