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Photo of Anthoula Malkopoulou

Anthoula Malkopoulou

Associate professor

Photo of Anthoula Malkopoulou

More Representation, Less Radicalism : How Compulsory Voting Was Defended in Europe


  • Anthoula Malkopoulou


  • Matteo Bonotti
  • Paul Strangio

Summary, in English

This chapter examines how the practice of compulsory voting was debated in Belgium and France at the turn of the twentieth century. Two principal arguments in favour of compulsory voting stand out. One builds on the concept of ‘true’, ‘exact’ and ‘mirror’ representation. Abstention, it is argued, creates a ‘false’ and ‘corrupt’ image of majority will; by summoning all voters, parliaments will be more representative, election results more credible, and democracies more legitimate. The second argument is that compulsory voting brings out the moderate vote. Radicals tend to either boycott elections or obsess about them. By contrast, abstainers are thought to be less passionate about voting, thus less radical in their views. Compulsory voting will prevent ‘turbulent minorities’ from being overrepresented and more influential than they deserve. As well as justifying compulsory voting historically, these arguments can also provide valuable conceptual resources for thinking about ways of countering the crisis of contemporary democracies.


  • Department of Political Science

Publishing year







Elections, Voting, Technology

Document type

Book chapter


Palgrave Macmillan


  • Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)


  • compulsory voting
  • radicalism
  • representation




  • ISBN: 978-981-334-025-1