Jack Vowles, "Offsetting the PR Effect? Party
Mobilization and Turnout Decline in New Zealand, 1996-99,"
Party Politics, 8 (September 2002," 587-605.
Turnout decline is a trend in many of the longest
established democracies (Norris, 2002 forthcoming;
Wattenberg, 2000). However, the causes of the trend remain
unclear. This article tests the hypothesis that the ability
of political parties to mobilize and secure the support of
potential voters provides a partial answer to an otherwise
difficult puzzle. Why did a trend of turnout decline
continue in New Zealand, one of the oldest modern
democracies, despite a recent change to proportional
Figures and Tables:
Figure 1. Turnout in New Zealand Elections 1908-1999
Table 1. 1996 and 1999 -- Did Anyone From the Following
Political Parties Contact You During the Campaign?
Table 2. Further Indicators of Election Mobilisation, 1996
Table 3. Attitudes, Perceptions and Nonvoting
Table 4. Decomposition of Effects, Nonvoting at the 1999 and
Economic dissatisfaction, a sentiment that waxes and wanes,
had some effects. Union membership, which is now slightly
recovering under new industrial law, also had a minor
effect. Most importantly, those variables that most
influenced turnout decline represent aspects of party
performance that could respond to organizational
mobilization -- the recovery of party organizations and the
revival of individual loyalties to political parties. While
perhaps PR could help facilitate those processes in the
longer term, it is clear from the experience of the 1999
election that in the short term its positive effects may be
outweighed by other factors.