Political participation is one of the most important democratic ideals. Democracy cannot function properly without citizens' involvement. Moreover, low turnout can be a threat to democracy. There are two theoretical arguments why low voter turnout could matter in Central Eastern Europe. Firstly, countries in this region are still in a process of democratization. In such systems legitimacy of a regime by definition cannot be strong. Thus any device enhancing legitimacy, including widespread participation, is desired. Secondly, in non-democratic systems abstaining is one of the most common and well-known ways of delegitimizing a regime. Therefore the main purpose of this paper is to analyze the relation between electoral turnout and legitimacy of democratic regime in Central Eastern Europe. In the first part the author briefly discusses alternative models of democracy, which differently define the role of electoral participation. In the second part both legitimacy and turnout are discussed, while in the third part results of empirical analyses, reporting relations between the two variables are presented. The hypotheses are to be tested on the Consolidation of Democracy data.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.