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The Impact of Ethnic Homogeneity on Voter Turnout in Sri Lanka: A study of voter turnout at district level
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Government.
2007 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 HE creditsStudent thesisAlternative title
Ethnicity and Voter Turnout in Sri Lanka : A study of ethnic homogeneity and voter turnout at district level (English)
Abstract [en]

Lipset and Rokkan argued along with their Social Cleavage Model in the 1960’s that ethnicity impacts voter turnout in ethnically divided societies. Lipset and Rokkan had found in their research that voter turnout is affected by a number of aspects such as ethnicity, religion, language, region etc. This has been further explored in later studies by such researchers as B. Geys and K. Hill, who each claim that different ethnic groups participate to different extent in elections. Geys have explicitly suggested that social cohesion increases group solidarity and “social pressure” and that communities with a high degree of socio-economic, racial or ethnic homogeneity will also have a higher political participation. Hill, on the other hand, has in his research found a negative correlative relationship between the concentration of an ethnic minority in an area or district and the voter turnout figures for the same area.

This paper sets out to test whether Geys’ and Hill’s two theories can be said to hold true for the Sri Lankan context too; if the ethnic composition in a district might explain the highly varying voter turnout rates for the different districts in Sri Lanka. The way to try and prove or disapprove Geys’ and Hill’s theories is therefore to look at the ethnic composition of the districts in Sri Lanka and compare this with the voter turnout rates in a set of three distinguished periods in Sri Lankan history, in order to see whether there is any correlation and if there is any difference over time. The hypothesis assumed is therefore twofold: in ethnically homogeneous districts the voter turnout rate will be higher, while districts with a higher concentration of minority population will have depressed voter turnout figures.

In my study I have found that there is a strong correlation between ethnic homogeneity of a district and the voter turnout figures for the same district. However, it is noteworthy that this holds true for districts mainly inhabited by the majority population in Sri Lanka, the Sinhalese, while the districts mainly inhabited by ethnic minorities, specifically the Tamils, have significantly low voter turnout figures. This indicates that the Sinhalese population tends to be more inclined to go to the polls on election day. However, the supposition that a higher concentration of an ethnic minority in a district will equivilate low turnout figures was not possible to establish due to variations in results for the years that I studied. In order to establish any such correlative relationship a larger study would need to be carried out.

The results of this study would be of interest to scholars and practitioners alike and other parties interested in understanding voter mobilization in Sri Lanka.

 

 

 

 

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007. , 37 p.
Keyword [en]
ethnicity, voter turnout, Sri Lanka, homogeneity
Keyword [sv]
etnicitet, valdeltagande, Sri Lanka, homogenitet
National Category
Globalization Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-331146OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-331146DiVA: diva2:1148480
Subject / course
Political Science
Educational program
Bachelor Programme in Political Science
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2017-10-11 Created: 2017-10-11 Last updated: 2017-10-11Bibliographically approved

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