champagne anarchist | armchair activist

Inequality in elections

There’s been a bit of fuss about turnout in the American presidential election, but turnout inequality is an issue in the Netherlands too. Youth, low-educated people and people with lower incomes are less likely to vote, possibly because they have little faith politicians will take their interests at heart.

Income, turnout and voting behaviour vary across neighbourhoods as shown by the confetti plot below, which uses the Amsterdam results of the 2012 Lower House election as an illustration.

The picture is clear: in rich neighbourhoods, more people vote, and they’re more likely to vote VVD or D66 - parties that favour free-market economics. In poorer neighbourhoods, the social-democrat PvdA and the socialist SP are more popular, but fewer people turn out to vote.

Given the large differences in turnout, it’s surprising that hardly any serious turnout campaigns have been run in the Netherlands. There’s ample scientific research on the effectiveness of such campaigns.

Click the urls below the chart to show turnout, left votes or liberal votes. Here is a larger version of the chart - even though this may not make much difference on a mobile screen.

Method

Comparing neighbourhood-level election results with income data on the residents of these neighbourhoods is somewhat problematic because voters aren’t required to vote in their own neighbourhood. I have excluded a few neighbourhoods, including Station-Zuid WTC en omgeving, because they have polling stations at railway stations where relatively many people from other neighbourhoods vote.

The correlations are pretty robust. You’ll also find them by analysing voting behaviour in Amsterdam neighbourhoods in the 2014 city council election, or differences between municipalities across the Netherlands in the 2012 Lower House election (in the latter case, correlations are somewhat weaker). Data and scripts here.

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