Extreme right suffers from Internet access

Nieuws | de redactie
11 juli 2012 | The more people have access to fast Internet, the fewer votes the extreme right receives. This formula appears to hold according to recent research on German election data. Furthermore, voter turnout drops by over 3% as the Internet crowds out national newspapers.

A team of researchers from LMU Munich, Max Planck Society andthe British Stirling University analyzed the impact of the Internet on votingbehavior. Based on German election and telecommunication data, thescientists investigated how the Internet affects two key variablesin the political economy: namely overall voter turnout and thestrength of established parties vis-à-vis fringe parties at theright and left political spectrum.

20% fewer votes for extreme right-wing

Their results indicate that increasing DSL Internet availabilityfrom 0 to 100% decreases voter turnout relatively by 3.0 to 3.9%.For most individual parties Internet availability has no impactwith one exception: extremist right-wing parties receive, onaverage, 0.4% fewer votes when Internet availability increases from0 to 100%. Given their average voter share of 2.2% in Germany, thisis equivalent to a relative decrease of almost 20%.

“A possible explanation for the negative effect of the Interneton voter turnout is that the Internet carries less or otherinformation than the media [like newspapers] that it crowds out,”the paper argues. Further examination of the data indeed shows thatInternet availability has a negative effect on national newspapercirculation which in turn decreases voter turnout. For localnewspapers and local elections, this cannot be observed.

For the full research paper, please click here.

internet impact on elections, regression results

* 10%, ** 5%, *** 1% significance

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