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Keywords:

  • voter turnout;
  • voter participation;
  • political equality;
  • law of dispersion;
  • re-elections

According to the ‘law of dispersion’, the level of inequality in political participation is higher when voter turnout is low. We empirically test this hypothesis by evaluating levels of voter turnout in the 2010 Swedish election to the Västra Götaland county council and in the 2011 re-election for the same county council. The re-election voter turnout was reduced by almost half, from 80.6 per cent to 44.1 per cent. Our results support the law of dispersion: the level of inequality in participation substantially increased between young and old, rich and poor, low and high educated and politically interested and uninterested.