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The Lib Dem figure is down markedly on 2010, when these seats were last contested – then the party stood in 500 more seats, around 75%, though that did also coincide with the general election. My naked run down Whitehall…Do Lib Dems keep their election promises?He promised on a past DP to run naked along Whitehall if Lib Dem numbers were slashed in the general election. As pointed out in a preceding blog entry, in Germany, the turnout rate at the 2014 European election was higher than at the preceding 2009 European election. Many political observers explain this increase by to the fact that local elections and referendums were held on the very same day in several local entities. As reported in Figure 1, the turnout rate at the 2014 European election in Germany varied quite drastically from one state to the other. In order to more precisely estimate the effect of simultaneous local elections on the turnout rate at the 2014 European election, I ran random intercept models regressing the turnout rate at the regional level by whether or not simultaneous local elections were held in the region, and adding control variables such as population density, the proportion of people receiving unemployment benefits, local business tax revenues (as a proxy of wealth) and the proportion of high school graduates. Based on these estimations, it easy to calculate what would have been the turnout rate at the European election if the local elections were not held the very same day. The observation that the simultaneous organization of local elections is associated with higher turnout rate does not forcefully mean that there is a causal relationship between the two. A quick analysis of the election returns at the regional level suggests that the fact of holding a local election the very same day increased turnout at the European election by about 3 percentage points. States that did not hold local elections in 2009: Brandenburg, Hamburg and North Rhine Westphalia. No party is contesting them all, though as you can see both Labour and Conservatives are fielding candidates in more than 90% of them, while the Lib Dems are contesting 65%.


Well, Mark Pack has pointed out in his latest Newswire that the Lib Dems have lost an average of 40% of seats in previous rounds of local elections during the Coalition.
He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall. Local elections were held in 11 out of 16 German states, while there was a state-wide referendum in Berlin. The first observation one can make is that the turnout is higher in nearly all the states where simultaneous local elections (or a simultaneous state-wide referendum as in Berlin) were held.
To do so, I subtract the average effect of 3.2 percentage points from all regional turnout rates. A better test of this causal statement is to check whether the simultaneity of local elections effect remains after controlling for the turnout rate at the previous European election in 2009. Without these simultaneous local elections, federal turnout rate would have been around 2 percentage points lower. One question that came to my mind: Yeah, national turnout is 46%, when we control for local elections.
On that basis, the benchmark this time round is that the party will retain around 437 of the seats it’s defending and lose 291.
It is important to note that the subsequent analyses were conducted in considering that no simultaneous local elections were held in Berlin.
Then, based on actual population figures, I calculate what would be the number of voters under this scenario.


However, even when I add this extra variable in the regression presented above, this effect remains largely unchanged (and is still statistically significant at a level of 0.05).
As demonstrated in a previous blog entry, this effect is highly relevant politically speaking, as low turnout seems to have benefited the Eurosceptic party AfD. My quick analysis outlined above auggests a three percentage point increase due additional elections in the three states. The results presented hereafter can thus be considered as conservative estimates of the effect of simultaneous elections on turnout in European elections. What is more, in the 3 German states (Brandenburg, Hamburg and North Rhine Westphalia) where simultaneous local elections were held in 2014, while not in 2009, the results demonstrate that the turnout rate increased by 10 percentage points in these three states. Another way would be just looking at what the turnout increase in the three states translates to at the national level.
Especially local elections in North Rhine Westphalia should have a huge impact on national turnout rate, since it has by far the largest population. So, what is the turnout rate in 2009 controlling for local elections at that point in time?



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