November 23rd, 2023
Hi there, it’s Veronika from the communications team, and today I’ll try to answer an important question: Do people living in democracy take advantage of its greatest benefit, their right to vote?
Two months ago, my home country elected a new president. The result of the election was a relief for many. But other than relief for the 58% of Czech voters who saw their candidate win, another number turned out better than predicted. A full 70% of eligible voters used their right to vote in the second round of the election, 2% more than in the first round. Compared to previous elections, presidential or parliamentary, that was an unusually high voter turnout, which made me think.
What counts as a high turnout? Do we take our democratic rights for granted when people in other countries don’t have that luxury? How do other countries compare?
To try and answer these questions, I used two sources: the recently updated Democracy Index from the Economist Intelligence Unit and IDEA’s Voter Turnout Database. Both datasets offer a myriad of options to explore these topics. I decided to go with the overall democracy scores and voter turnout for the most recent elections, parliamentary or presidential.
I plotted the data in a scatterplot and colored the dots by whether voting is mandatory in the country or not. Although there may not be any clear answers at first sight, I have noticed the following trends:
So, all in all: yes, a voter turnout of 70% is pretty high. It’s higher than the global average of 64% and even above average among flawed democracies. We can always aim higher — in terms of our state of democracy, voter turnout, and other forms of civic engagement — but we seem to be heading in the right direction.
I hope you learned something and maybe even decided to investigate further! This is my last Weekly Chart here, so if you have any feedback or would like to get in touch, you can find me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Otherwise, you’ll hear from Gregor, our head of data vis, next week!