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Abstract. We examine turnout in 324 democratic national lower house elections held in 91 countries, between 1972 and 1995. We rely on Freedom House ratings of political rights to determine whether an election is democratic or not. We distinguish three blocs of factors that affect turnout: the socio–economic environment, institutions, and party systems. We show that turnout is influenced by a great number of factors and that the patterns that have been shown to prevail in studies dealing with more limited samples of countries generally hold when we look at a larger set of democracies. But we also show that the socioeconomic environment, which has been downplayed in previous studies, has a substantial impact on turnout.