Communication and Voting in Multi-party Elections: An Experimental Study


  • Support for this research by the Ministry for Science and Culture of Lower Saxony (VW-Vorab) is gratefully acknowledged. We also thank the Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg (HWK) for Rebecca Morton's fellowship stay in Germany during the work on this project. We appreciate comments from Oliver Pamp, Frans Van Winden and participants at the Experimental Political Science Conference at the HWK in December 2008, the 2008 CESifo Venice Summer Institute on Behavioral Public Economics and the 2009 ECPR Panel on experiments in Potsdam. In particular, we thank Thomas Kalwitzki for important ideas and comments on the analysis of chat transcripts; and Woo Chang Kang, Jorge Gallego and Birgit Peuker for research assistance.


We investigate communication and costly voting in multi-party election experiments. Turnout is consistently lower across electorate communication as compared with restricted communication within parties. Voters are more likely to choose the strategic voting option at the outset in restricted communication but more likely to start deliberation by stating their first preference when unrestricted. Distributions of earnings are more inequitable when communication is restricted and the candidate preferred by the minority of voters is more likely to win. We also find that even restricted communication significantly increases participation and strategic voting by swing voters, above and beyond induced identity effects.