History of Compulsory Voting in Europen : Democracy's Duty?
Are elections out of fashion? Does it matter if voters don’t show up at the polls? If yes, is legal enforcement of voting compatible with democracy? These are just a few of the questions linked to the thorny problem of electoral abstention. This book addresses the hot question whether there is a duty to vote and if this is enforceable in the form of compulsory voting.
Divided into three parts, Anthoula Malkopoulou begins by expertly presenting the importance of compulsory voting today, situating the debate within the contemporary discussion on elections, representation and democracy. In part two, she questions the historical origins of the idea in Europe. In particular, she examines parliamentary discussions and other primary sources from France, Belgium and Greece, including a few additional insights from other countries, like Switzerland, the Netherlands and Australia. Focusing especially on the years between 1870 and 1930, the reader learns about the historical actors of the debates, their efforts to legitimate punishment of abstention through normative arguments, but also their strategic motivations and political interests. While discussions at the beginning of the century focus on introducing compulsory voting, Malkopoulou criticizes its misuse and discusses the debate over its abolition after the Second World War, exposing the contingency of relevant normative claims today and the conditionality of compulsory voting.
From ancient times until today, you learn about the ideological debates, their political context and how the problems of equal representation and political accountability persist through the ages.