People who vote in the elections are happy with their choice, while those who abstain from voting tend to regret their decisions, a study has found. Researchers from Universite de Montreal in Canada looked at 22 election-period surveys done in Canada, France, Germany,Spain and Switzerland between 2011 and 2015.
They found of the nearly 20,000 people polled, the vastmajority - 97 per cent - who voted were glad they did, while only 60 per cent of non-voters were glad they abstained.
"This is an encouraging result for those who are concerned with the recent turnout decline that has been observed in most western democracies," said Andre Blais,political scientist at Universite de Montreal.
"This is consistent with the presence of a social norm according to which citizens have a moral duty to participate in elections; at least some of those who do not follow the norm have doubts about the wisdom of their choice," Blais added.
Researchers also noted that people who are interested in politics, who feel that they have a moral duty to vote in elections, and who feel close to a party are more prone to be satisfied with their decision to vote and to be dissatisfied if they chose to abstain.
Older voters, especially, are happy they cast their ballot. "At every election, people must decide whether to vote ornot. It is fair to assume that some people are uncertain about whether they should participate or not," researchers said.
"It is not surprising to see that, ex post, some people,especially non-voters, believe that they may have made the wrong choice," they said. This raises the very important question of whether that judgment is durable and, consequently, whether it has an impact on the decisions that citizens make in the following elections, they said.
The fact that older respondents feel more positive about their decision suggests that there is indeed a learning effect, and that people correct the mistakes that they possibly made in the first elections. This may very well be one of the reasons why turnoutincreases over the life cycle, researchers added.
The study was published in the journal Party Politics.