Patrimony, class, and participation : French elections (1988–2012)
GB : Palgrave Macmillan
106 - 127 p.
Participation, Patrimony, Income, French presidential election
Perhaps no variable in political science has received more attention than electoral participation. Despite, or because of, the great amount of research on this topic, significant new determinants for electoral participation have not been recently forthcoming. Here we offer a significant new determinant – patrimony. For theoretical reasons, we expect a voter’s wealth portfolio to influence their turnout. We test these ideas using a battery of asset items asked in French election surveys. Our finding is that voters who possess more patrimony are more likely to vote. The strength of this patrimonial effect rivals the influence of the strongest traditional predictors, such as political interest. Finally, patrimonial effects seem able to subsume, even replace, the traditional class effects from income, occupation, and education. This pivotal empirical, as well as theoretical, role of patrimony suggests serious revision in the explanation of how socioeconomic forces shape electoral participation.