The Effects of Local Government Consolidation on Turnout: Evidence from a Quasi-Experiment in Switzerland
Koch, Philippe; (2017). The Effects of Local Government Consolidation on Turnout: Evidence from a Quasi-Experiment in Switzerland. Swiss Political Science Review Peer reviewed.
In the last decades, municipal mergers have been one major element of local government reforms in Switzerland and beyond. In this article, we describe and analyze the political effects of this development. We use a quasi-experimental setting to test the impact of municipal mergers on electoral participation. We find that in merged municipalities, the decrease in turnout is significantly stronger than in non-merged municipalities. Further, the effect is more pronounced in relatively small localities. There is a temporal dimension to this effect—that is, turnout drops mainly in the first election after the first merger, but not so much after the second or third merger. Hence, the study provides a skeptical yet differentiated perspective on the democratic consequences of municipal mergers and points to further research avenues to develop a more comprehensive understanding of local government consolidation.