Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2016

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Political Science

First Advisor

Professor Jennifer Fitzgerald

Second Advisor

Professor Janet Donavan

Third Advisor

Professor Joanne Belknap



This paper sets out to explore how voter turnout varies across countries. People turning out to vote are a vital part of any democracy. The people who turn out to vote tend to set the trend for how the country will be run. A lot of the research out there examines how voter turnout varies across nations in an institutional context. I examine how the idea that the amount of political parties has an impact on voter turnout may be better understood in a rational choice framework. This paper looks into how certain types of political parties may have an effect on voter turnout. Radical right parties and green parties each have had various successes across many countries. To see if there is an impact of having these parties on the ballot I will compare the level of voter turnout to the vote totals as a percentage of the vote. My belief is that the type of political party has an impact on voter participation because some individuals are more likely to choose to go out and vote for those parties. This stems from the fact that these parties focus on a narrow issue set that is able to motivate a portion of the electorate to get out and vote.

Keywords: Voter-turnout; political-parties; radical-right-parties; green-parties; rational-choice; institutional