Voting and Participation

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter examines how Australians engage with their political system – through voting at elections, and by other means. The functioning of democracy requires some degree of participation by citizens in the political process. Political participation by citizens is the means by which the popular will is expressed and exercised. In democracies, voting is the most important form of political participation, but participation also includes a wider variety of acts such as protesting, membership in political organisations, or contacting local representatives. As discussed in Chapter 1, modern democracy entails at least some degree of public participation – at minimum, voting – and has the potential for much more. Without people at least having a say about who is to govern, a democracy would quickly hollow out, and perhaps even cease to exist.
In this chapter, we explore the issues of voting and wider political participation,
and investigate the following main themes.
• Participation at elections, and key factors such as turnout and compulsory
voting, patterns of support for political parties, and the composition of seats
in federal parliament.
• Different theories and models that help us understand voting behaviour,
including sociological, psychological, and rational choice approaches.
• Understanding what we mean by political participation, exploring the
different ‘modes’ and rates of participation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAustralian Government and Politics
EditorsAlan Fenna, Rob Manwaring
Place of PublicationMelbourne: Vic
PublisherPearson Australia
Number of pages22
ISBN (Print)9780655700746
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Australian politics
  • Voter engagement
  • Voter participation


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