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Thom Brooks

Both vote buying and tax-cut promises are attempts to manipulate voters through cash incentives in order to win elections, but only vote buying is illegal. Should we extend the ban on vote buying to tax-cut promises? This article will argue for three conclusions. The first is that tax-cut promises should be understood as a form of vote buying. The second is that campaign promises are a form of vote buying. The third conclusion is that campaign promises, including tax-cut promises, should not be banned. An important distinction is drawn between enforceable wrongful incentives and unenforceable wrongful incentives. The difference between vote buying and tax-cut promises is not wrongfulness but enforceability.

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Voting and Liberty

Contemporary Implications of the Skinnerian Re-thinking of Political Liberty

Kari Palonen

In this paper, the author takes up the opposition between liberty and dependence proposed by Quentin Skinner and applies it to the analysis of the debates involving voting rights and regulations. The goal here is to examine the rhetoric supporting different positions in favor and against the extension of suffrage, the exclusion of certain groups, etc. The author points out that dependence can be detected even in democratic societies that lack traditional hierarchies. A similar effort is made to think how commitment, deliberation, and contestation can take place in the context of today's representative democracy in ways that enhance freedom instead of endangering it.

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The Abortion Referendum in Portugal

The Influence of Psychosocial Variables in the Voting Intentions and Behavior of Portuguese Youth

Ana Figueiredo and Jorge Silva

February 11th 2007 set the date for what would be an intense and passionate discussion on a gendered health related issue in Portugal: abortion. In the referendum, approximately 44% of the eligible population voted, and from these 59% voted for the legalization of abortion in Portugal. Hence, this referendum brought about changes in the Portuguese law, which now allows legal abortion to occur at the desire of the woman until the 10th week of pregnancy. The present research consists of a study in which 205 university students fully responded to 4 data collection sessions between November 2006 and March 2007. The goal of the study was to understand the most relevant psychosocial variables when trying to explain the voting intentions and voting behavior of Portuguese youth. The variables in the present study included participants’ gender, political orientation, religious affiliation and practice, sexual attitudes and attitudes towards abortion. Our results show that all of the above variables, except for gender, are relevant for the opinion formation about this topic. Approximately 94% of our participants reported they had the intention to vote, although only 64% of these actually voted on the day of the referendum. Finally, we found that participants rely mostly on the strength of their attitudes towards abortion in relation to their voting intention, while relying mostly on the strength of their normative religious beliefs in relation to their voting behavior. Implications of our results for understanding the politics of abortion legislation are discussed.

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Nagas as a ‘Society against Voting?’

Consensus-Building, Party-less Politics and a Culturalist Critique of Elections in Northeast India

Jelle J. P. Wouters

Interrogating the normative notion of ‘man the voter’, this article draws on ethnography among the Chakhesang Naga in Northeast India to communicate a cosmopolitan, culturalist critique – and an answer to this critique – of liberal democracy’s hallmark of party-based elections, individual autonomy and equal voting rights. While Nagas have been decorated as ‘traditional democrats’, their sense of the good political life is shaped by values of communal harmony, consensus-building and complimentary coexistence. However, these are threatened by practices and principles of liberal democracy, which led Phugwumi villagers to attempt a procedural adaptation of elections by substituting individual voting for consensus-building and the selection of a leader. I use this ethnographic case to provincialize the sprawling contemporary sense of ‘liberal universalism’, and to postulate that, in their political sociality, Nagas are a ‘society against voting’, an adaptation of Pierre Clastres’ (1977) Society against the State.

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The politics of entitlement

Affirmative action and strategic voting in Uttar Pradesh, India

Lucia Michelutti and Oliver Heath

This article focuses on the struggles and shifting political strategies of two major political players in northern India: the Yadavs (a low-to-middle ranking pastoral agricultural caste) and the dalits (former untouchables, which in the region mainly come from the Chamar caste) and their political parties, the Samaj wadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, respectively. Both communities (and political parties) have strongly benefited from affirmative action policies over the last three decades. We argue that that these affirmative action policies, and the political rhetoric that has tended to accompany them, have been “vernacularized“ in local sociocultural structures, which in turn has helped to produce folk theories of democracy and social justice that are directly and indirectly legitimizing conflict, and producing new forms of caste-based strategic voting, based on the principle that the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

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’Tis but a Habit in an Unconsolidated Democracy

Habitual Voting, Political Alienation and Spectatorship

Anthony Lawrence A. Borja

The electoral process can be considered as one basic component of a democracy and for this reason one way to evaluate the progress of a democratisation project is by looking at the development of this civic practice in terms of both quantity (voter turnout) and quality (voters’ preferences). Focusing on the former, specifically the impact of political alienation on electoral participation as voter turnout this article will look at the challenges to democratisation posed by electoral politics. From the case of electoral participation in the Philippines, I ask the question: What is the relationship between political alienation and voter turnout in the context of the latter enjoying relatively high and sustained rates? Through a synthesis between the notions of political spectatorship, habitual voting and the learning approach towards analysing voter behaviour, I argue that electoral participation is a disempowered mode of participation resulting from the interdependence of sustained spectatorship and habitual voting.

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Katherine Smith

This article uncovers the distinction between calls of the far right to address what they consider to be an imbalance in political representation in Britain and local frustrations in Higher Blackley, North Manchester, England about feeling ignored by local and national government. Exploring how voting for the far right is used strategically in an attempt to communicate political disenchantment with the Labour Party, the article explains the shift in voting patterns as a protest against Labour rather than as a statement of affiliation with the core values of the British National Party. The extent of residents' anger is revealed as they explain the “unfairness“ of politicians' general neglect of the kind of people who live in Higher Blackley. This is compounded by perceptions of the preferential and “unfair“ treatment given to people from ethnic minorities. The article explains how the labeling of residents of Higher Blackley as white working class is rejected as also being “unfair“ because it ascribes negative attributes, wholesale, to the very people who were once respected for their participation in a Labour movement of their own making. The ethnographic idea of “fairness“ is revealed in the article as the opposite of labeling/fixing and as the acknowledgement of contingency, chance, and choice.

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Peter Pulzer

“Votes count,” Stein Rokkan asserted many years ago, “but resources

decide.”1 Political finance is one of the many arenas in which Alexander

and Shiratori’s “conflict between real inequalities in economic

resources and idealized equalities in political resources” is fought out.2

Yet the battleground is more complex than either of these authorities

suggests. Votes are also a resource. They legitimate, and they can also

punish, if those who cast them think that economic resources are

being used unreasonably. Above all, the determination of electoral

outcomes involves players others than voters and moneyed

interests. In almost all modern democracies there are referees of

varying effectiveness. In general, the referee is “the state,” but much

depends on the organs through which the state operates. Governments

are not necessarily neutral agents; they and the parliaments

that legislate on the regulation of political finance may merely reflect

the interests of dominant or established parties. Political finance can,

however, also be regulated, as for instance in Germany or the United

States, by judicial review. In addition the media almost everywhere

play an unpredictable role as spectator, watchdog or interested participant.

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Gerald F. Gaus

This essay analyses optimal voting rules for one form of deliberative democracy. Drawing on public choice analysis, it is argued that (i) the voting rule that best institutionalises deliberative democracy is a type of a supermajority rule. Deliberative democracy is also committed to (ii) the standard neutrality condition according to which if x votes are enough to select alternative A, x votes must be enough to select not-A. Taken together, these imply that deliberative democracy will often be indeterminate. This result shows that deliberative democracy is ill-equipped to provide guidance as to how actual political disputes are to be legitimately resolved.

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Marko Grdešic

This article engages in a spatial analysis of the link between protest and voting during the Wende, East Germany’s revolution of 1989. Are the same places that protested more also the places that decided the revolution’s fate by supporting CDU’s ticket of quick reunification? The revolution is approached through the conceptual metaphor of Thermidor, a conservative backlash to the revolution’s initial radical impulse. Spatial methods are used to investigate the local-level relationships between protest and voting. The article finds a weak link between protest and voting, which suggests that something akin to Thermidor occurred in East Germany. While certain towns initiated the revolution with their protests, other localities stepped in at a later stage and finished the revolution by voting for reunification, the revolution’s main outcome. The article pays special attention to the divide between East Germany’s north (Berlin, Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-West Pomerania) and south (Saxony and Thuringia).