Policy-Based Abstention in Brazil's 2002 Presidential Election
Working Paper No.:  80
Date Published:  2009-04-01


Gabriel Katz, California Institute of Technology


This paper implements a unified model of individual abstention and vote choice to analyze policy-based alienation and indifference in Brazil’s 2002 presidential election. The results indicate that both alienation and indifference depressed turnout, with indifference contributing slightly more to voter abstention. Also, the determinants of alienation and indifference differed considerably, the former being determined by structural factors such as voters’ information and perceived efficacy levels, while the latter was related to shortterm aspects such as parties’ mobilization efforts. More importantly, evidence shows that while alienation and indifference were strongly influenced by attitudinal and protest variables, they were also affected by citizens’ evaluation of candidates’ ideological locations. The main conclusion is that abstention in Brazil’s 2002 election had a policy-driven component and that spatial considerations played a substantive role in citizens’ electoral behavior, a fact that has been overlooked in previous research on the determinants of abstention in Latin America.


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